Lies, Cheating, and Creativity: Q&A with Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely

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"Imagine you have some kind of voice within you asking, 'Am I behaving morally or not?'" says Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist and author of the book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty. "That voice sometimes is asleep."

Reason TV's Naomi Brockwell talked to Ariely at Tribeca Film Festival's Games For Change conference, where Ariely and his team set up a "Truth Box," a sort of confessional where participants could record themselves talking about a meaningful lie they'd told in their lives.

"Having to face some of your own past and some of the lies you've told... is actually a very interesting process for us as researchers and, I think, also very cleansing for the people who are participating in it," says Ariely.

Ariely studies economics by running behavioral studies in a lab setting and says he's discovered that people are less likely to lie when presented with a "moral reminder" of some sort. This can be as simple as something like a disclaimer urging participants not to lie. But he's also demonstrated that urging participants swear on the Bible or recall the Ten Commandments before running an experiment resulted in less cheating overall.

An individual's penchat for cheating, Ariely says, is determined by the balance between two conflicting desires. Most people want to gain the edge that cheating or lying might give them but also don't want to think of themselves as immoral. Ariely has uncovered through experimentation that creative people tend to cheat more on average.

"Imagine it's all about rationalization. You want to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about it. You also want to benefit from cheating. It's all about telling stories. If you're creative, you can tell better stories, which means you can cheat a little bit more and still feel good about yourself," says Ariely.

Watch the video above for a deeper discussion about cheating, lying, and what to do about it. Approximately 7 minutes. Scroll down for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for daily content like this.

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  • The Immaculate Trouser||#

    Deja vu to you, too.

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  • Pro Libertate||#

    All my comments gone forever. I'm going to sue all of you.

    log in or register to reply

  • Aresen||#

    I can see how that would be extremely traumatic for a lawyer.

    For the rest of us, however, the thought that our comments have gone the way of Lois Lerner's emails brings a great sense of relief.

    Now, will the server squirrels 1) cause this post to vanish or 2) suddenly find my previous reply so that I double post?

    log in or register to reply

  • Marshall Gill||#

    All my comments gone forever. I'm going to sue all of you.

    I would like to hire you to sue....YOU. Because you made a reference to posts which no longer exist, I am experiencing real trauma! What happened to these posts?! What funny or enlightening quip did I miss? (yeah, I admit I am stretching here) How can I be whole without the knowledge of those missing posts to which YOU informed me of their existence!

    I expect a seven figure settlement offer on your desk within the week. I also expect to to be brutal with yourself in the negotiations. Show yourself no mercy!

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  • ||#

    I'd like to get in on this. Class action? The case of ProL vs. ProL! You're going to take you for all you're worth, ProL!

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  • Notorious G.K.C.||#

    Either way ProL will win. Probably as defendant.

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  • Lady Bertrum||#

    All your comments belong to us.

    Sincerely, Squirrels

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  • Dweebston||#

    I'm entitled to a public forum hosted at someone else's expense! I demand restitution! Damnit, listen to meeeeeeeeeeeeee

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  • Pro Libertate||#

    I wonder if this is a crime of some sort? You know, wire fraud? RICO? ECPA? BSA? Treason?

    log in or register to reply

  • GILMORE||#

    In memory of comments that once were, and are now no longer =

    "Naomi; OMG she hawt"

    Rest in peace, homie. (pours 40oz of Old English)

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  • sarcasmic||#

    She brocks well.

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  • Rich||#

    "Is it safe?"

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  • ||#

    No my child. You're just in the eye of Hurricane Squirreltrina.

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  • rts||#

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  • Dweebston||#

    Call the weekend guy, I don't care!

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  • ||#

    SpaceX launch in less than 10 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!

    http://www.spacex.com/webcast/

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  • ||#

    Welp, they aborted again.

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  • Brandon||#

    I blame the squirrels.

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  • Duke||#

    Where the heller have you been all this time?

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  • ||#

    Doing stuff. I got tired of the echo chamber I guess.

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  • ||#

    heller...heller...heller...

    Can you hear me?...hear me?...hear me?

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  • Brandon||#

    Last?

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  • Sevo||#

    So not only are we not getting a new server on The Independents, we're not getting The Independents?
    Someone should be getting a bit embarrassed...

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  • ||#

    Joe Arpaio is going to be on the show for the immigration section. We may all be better off.

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  • ||#

    I've felt a great disturbance in the force server. As if a thousand lives comments were suddenly extinguished.

    Squirrlz or malicious attack?

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  • Jumbie||#

    or mercy killing?

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  • ||#

    I think they're doing the server cutover today that they promised would tame the squirrels. The squirrels seem to be fighting for their very lives.

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  • Notorious G.K.C.||#

    Hey, guys, what happened?

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  • From the Tundra||#

    I bailed on the PM links to enjoy a couple of wonderful Surly beers, only to come back and find the sqwerrls and jesse in charge.

    For a magazine called reason...

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  • Plàya Manhattan.||#

    I'll drink to that.

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  • From the Tundra||#

    *shocked face*

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  • Plàya Manhattan.||#

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