November 20th, 2014
Econintersect: Two research reports (2013 and 2014) have found that bankers and the very religious have at least one thing in common: they are both more likely to lie to gain money than are other groups of people. The study with bankers found that they had a tendency to lie when operating within a banking context but did not when given the same test with no connection to banking. A study with a student population found that three groups were most likely to lie for financial gain: (1)Those with divorced parents; (2) business majors; and (3) those for whom religion was "more important" in their lives.
A paper in Nature is reported by Clive Cookson in the Financial Times. Researchers at the University of Zurich constructed game-playing situations and found that 26% of bankers, when playing the game in a situation where they were primed to think about banking, cheated to gain financial advantage. Another group of bankers played the same game with no contextual connection to banking and the number of cheaters was indistinguishable from zero.
An economics professor from the University of Lyon was quoted by Cookson:
"These findings confirm some popular opinions about practices in the financial sector . . . It is crucial to ensure a business culture of honesty in this industry to restore trust in it."
Cookson says that the Zurich researchers suggest, among other things, that bankers should take a "professional oath akin to the Hippocratic oath" for physicians, prompting them
"...to consider the impact of their behaviour on society rather than focusing on their own short-term benefits".
Econintersect: We have a solution: Throw the lying banksters in prison.
A good review of the bankers study has been written by Andre Spear at The Conversation: Bankers will lie at the toss of a coin – but only when at work, says new study
Hat tip to Rob Carter.
- Bankers have tendency to lie for financial gain, say scientists (Clive Cookson, Financial Times, 19 November 2014)
- Study: Religious more likely to lie for financial gain (Tom Jacobs, Salon, 22 October 2014)
- Personal characteristics and lying: An experimental investigation (Jason Childs, Economics Direct Vol. 121, Issue 2, 2013, Science Direct) Abstract only without charge.