Reader's Digest recently conducted a social experiment to find out the most honest city from 16 selected cities around the world.
Reporters 'dropped' 12 wallets in every city's public spaces such as parks, shopping malls and side-walks. Each wallet contained contact details, family photos, coupons, business cards and $50 cash. Then, they observed what happened to the 'lost' items.
Those who returned the wallets were asked why they did so. Most replied that honesty was a value ingrained by their culture and upbringing. Some mentioned having a similar experience and wanted to pay forward the kindness of strangers when they recovered their own lost belongings. Others connected more with the family photos within and empathised with the wallet's owner.
However, there were also people who acted by the 'finders, keepers' rule. Several pocketed the money while others took the entire wallet. A few asked passers-by if they dropped the wallet but decided against returning it when its owner could not be easily found.
Out of 192 dropped wallets, 90 were returned. The experiment did not conclude that people from a particular socio-economic background are more prone to acts of dishonesty. The study thus shows both honest and dishonest people existed everywhere.