The MasterBlog: Lying commies: The more people are exposed to #socialism, the worse they behave @TheEconomist
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Lying commies: The more people are exposed to #socialism, the worse they behave @TheEconomist

No surprise here really.

On average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany 

The more people are exposed to socialism, the worse they behave

Economics and ethics

Lying commies

My other car is a Porsche 
“UNDER capitalism”, ran the old Soviet-era joke, “man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.” In fact new research
suggests that the Soviet system inspired not just sarcasm but cheating
too: in East Germany, at least, communism appears to have inculcated
moral laxity.

Lars Hornuf of the University of Munich and Dan
Ariely, Ximena García-Rada and Heather Mann of Duke University ran an
experiment last year to test Germans’ willingness to lie for personal
gain. Some 250 Berliners were randomly selected to take part in a game
where they could win up to €6 ($8).

game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40
times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally
earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit
themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the
bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which
side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die
first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the
highest number. If they picked the top and then rolled a two, for
example, they would have an incentive to claim—falsely—that they had
chosen the bottom, which would be a five.

Honest participants
would be expected to roll ones, twos and threes as often as fours, fives
and sixes. But that did not happen: the sheets handed in had a
suspiciously large share of high numbers, suggesting many players had

After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a
form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived
in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had
East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in
West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people
had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer
the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the
likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.

study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism
and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East
Germans, for example. All the same, when it comes to ethics, a
capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one.

From the print edition: Finance and economics

Read it online here:  Economics and ethics: Lying commies | The Economist

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