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  • It turns out lying is the natural order of things.

  • We put 15 high school kids into a tempting situation to see if they'd lie.

  • We told them we wanted to test the relationship between height and coordination.

  • That was, in fact, a lie.

  • First, we measured height.

  • Next, we invited them to toss bean bags through three holes of decreasing size.

  • And to make it more interesting, we told them we'd pay them $3 for each bean bag they got through the smallest hole, $2 for middle-sized, and $1 for the biggest hole.

  • And to make it tempting, we asked them to track their own scores.

  • Ah, do you see where we're going with this?

  • But to keep it scientific, we used a hidden camera to watch what really happened.

  • Watch this kid.

  • Here's his actual score.

  • And listen to his report!

  • - What was your score? - Three threes, two twos.

  • That's a 240% lie!

  • But this young man claimed that out of a possible $15, he had earned...

  • - What was your score? - Sixteen.

  • - Sixteen? Okay. - Yeah, it is.

  • All told, 80% of the subjects lied.

  • And the irony here is that most of these subjects had just finished a Bible study class.

  • So, whawhat's going on? Are these just bad kids? Do we lie just because we can?

  • Here's some B.S. you can use.

  • When we and others lie, we typically attribute it to a moral defect.

  • Well, I do! I think either I'm evil, or more likely, he's evil.

  • We watch others tell lies, and we think they must just have a cankered soul.

  • The psychologist Albert Bandura suggests much of our problem isn't "moral defect", but "moral slumber".

  • In other words, we're capable of making good, moral choices, but we just aren't thinking about this choice as a moral one.

  • We're morally... asleep!

  • You know, this is a pretty big idea.

  • Because if it's true, we need to spend less time judging each other, and more effort alerting each other.

  • But would that work?

  • Next, we brought in 15 more kids and gave them the same instructions.

  • The only change this time was we asked them to promise to be honest.

  • We assured them they were on their own, but invited them to indicate their commitment by signing an honor code.

  • That's the moral wake-up call.

  • Now, watch what happens.

  • Here's the star of the high school basketball team, a boy name Jake, and he scores...

  • And he reports...

  • Six.

  • He faces humiliation with honesty.

  • In this condition, the results were reversed.

  • This time, 80% told the truth.

  • That's staggering! They traded money for morality willingly!

  • So, what's the point?

  • Many of our moral lapses aren't conscious, but mindless.

  • It isn't that we compromise our conscience, it's that our conscience is asleep; it's left the building!

  • We can make the world a more moral place by simply judging less and talking more.

  • We can assume others just aren't aware and give them and us a moral wake-up call.

  • A little nudge to invite them to bring values they already hold to a specific decision.

  • But you have to do it in the right way.

  • Not a lecture, not a command; a polite reminder, preferably prior to the moment of decision.

  • Well, let's say you're getting an estimate for a car repair.

  • Don't shy away from saying, "It's very important to me to be treated fairly. May I have your word that you will look out for my interests?"

  • There's a big message here for leaders.

  • If you aren't frequently infusing work place decisions with appropriate, moral meaning, you and your people will likely drift off into moral slumber.

  • So, you have two options: Either offer moral wake-up calls or invest more in auditing.

  • - What was your score? - Sixteen.

  • - Sixteen? Okay. - Yeah, it is.

  • I'm David Maxfield.

  • And I'm Joseph Grenny.

  • And that's all the B.S. for today.

  • Sharpen your behavioral science skills by subscribing to our channel for our latest videos and updates.

  • Click here to subscribe, where we always promise share some B.S. you can use.

  • One of the... the biggest drivers of moral disengagement is social norms.

  • If you enter a system where other people seem to be okay with moral lapses, then we adopt that immediately in an unquestioning way.

  • It's easy! Another is where there are set rules to follow, and we're used to following and setting these protocols and we don't notice that these protocols are now coming into conflict with broader, moral principles.

It turns out lying is the natural order of things.

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Why Do We Lie? | The Behavioral Science Guys

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    Elise Chuang posted on 2022/05/11
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