Thursday, December 6, 2012

You’ll get the complete truth if he’s not cornered and money is not at stake

Title Picture
Money not at stake? Most people say the truth. Credit: Flickr, linkogecko.
Do you know that when doing business with people, if you push them into a corner, they usually lie? Sometimes, these are persons who pride themselves on honesty and integrity. Most people do not want to lose their money or their investment, so when nothing of material value is at stake, people always tend to tell the truth. It is unbelievable, but that is the truth. There are people who take their conscience as something more precious than all the gold in the world and would never lie even if they have the opportunity to do so. Why is it like that, in this materialistic world, where money is everyone’s concern?

We teach our children from infancy that it is wrong to lie. Yet, we find ourselves lying. This could be wrong, but people do it because what is materially at stake, either money or reputation, is considered much more important than whether one told a lie or not. David Xu, assistant professor in the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University found that when tempted with cash rewards, people are wont to lie when giving reports through text messaging than if asked face-to-face. Also, they are more likely to lie if asked to give a report through text messaging or face-to-face than if asked to make the report through an audio chat or video recording.

What David Xu’s research found out was corroborated by two psychological scientists,
Shaul Shavi of the University of Amsterdam and Ori Eldar and Yoella Bereby-Meyer of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev that when something is at stake, if you push people into a corner, they will usually or are more likely to lie. To make them tell the truth when money or something of value is involved, give them more time. Also, you need to make them feel that they are in control of the situation and not being harassed or rushed to make a report.

It’s all about self-interest and justification.

It has been discovered that what is at play is that people have the first instinct to protect themselves, or to serve their own self-interest. Secondly, when they think it is justifiable, they are likely to lie although they know it is wrong, especially when they believe it was done for the common good. It was further discovered that when rushed, or prompted to act quickly, they tend to lie or bend ethical rules, in order to come out ahead of others. If they have more time to deliberate on an issue, they usually tend to tell the truth with a clause: when nothing is at stake. If something is at stake, they want to favor themselves and would even lie to do so.

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So, where you want to choose a referee or judge for a case, give him all the time in the world and make sure he has no interest or stake in the matter at hand. Justice will always be served. Where you want your employees to go out and make profits for the company, no matter the cost, give them no time, put them in a corner and tell them that their job is at stake. They’ll bend all the rules in the book to make that profit.

It is left for you to decide whether you want to tell a lie or not, but always remember, there is nothing like saying the truth. The truth will not only set you free, it gives you the experience needed to solving problems and overcoming obstacles.

(Related post: Don't expect your friends to cover-up for you, if they will lose something of value, 1 and 2 .)

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