In this RSA Animate presentation, Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, tells what experimental psychology shows about what keeps people honest. Few people are completely honest, few people are completely dishonest, most people rationalize being slightly dishonest. But when people remind themselves of their moral code, such as by reading the Ten Commandments, they become more honest. This works for atheists as well as believers.
One interesting finding was the effect of confession, as in the Catholic church. Ariely found that once people deviate from their moral code, the easier it becomes to deviate from it more and more. Confession brings you back to the initial state of moral purity.
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Click on Dan Ariely Home Page for more from the author of Predictably Irrational.
Hat tip to The Dish.