Monday, August 7, 2017

Book Report: The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty

Book Overview: I chose the book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely because I have always been interested on why exactly people lie. The book goes into how people cheat to get themselves ahead, since there is no motivation to cheat if it doesn’t benefit us. One of the biggest motivators is money. At the same time, we want to see ourselves in a positive light. We attempt to rationalize our reasons for cheating that way we don’t see it as a bad thing. We deceive ourselves so we still see our selves as honest. Dan Ariely goes into different reasons each chapter why someone would be dishonest, such as being hungry or tired, and things that cause people to be more honest, such as spiritual reminders, and backs it up with experiments he has conducted. I enjoyed reading this book because since it went into different stories and studies done and applied to each concept introduced in each chapter. It made the book more fun to read and kept my attention.

Favorite Part: I found Chapter 2: Fun with the Fudge Factor to be very interesting. The author starts with a joke about a young boy who got in trouble for stealing a pencil at school. It seems trivial because it is just a pencil and he could have simply asked to borrow one. Ariely does a variation of this joke by putting coke and a few dollars in separate communal fridges to see if anyone would take either of the two items. By the end of the experiment, the coke was all gone but the dollars remained. The author also makes the same point by explaining how most people would be willing to take paper from work to use in their own printer, but wouldn’t steal money from work to buy paper to point in their own printer. I find it intriguing how people are willing to steal and lie under certain situations. Our ethics are very complex. Where do we draw the line and how to do we determine that?

Relation to Class: One way the book connects to this class is when it talks about will power. Resisting doing something you shouldn’t takes a lot of energy. After doing this over and over, we exhaust our willpower which is called ego depletion. At this point, it is easier for us to give in to what we have been resisting. We stop being able to reason effectively and as a result have a decrease in our morals. We are more likely to be dishonest when we are at that point. This is shown in an experiment where the author told one group of people to write an essay without the letters x or z and the other group to write it without a and n. The second group was more depleted because it was a struggle to write the essay. In the next task, they had to solve math problems. The group that was more depleted cheated more than the other group.

Application to My Life: People who read this book can use the concepts to better than our moral compass. Dishonesty can often be irrational but if we take the time to figure out why we do what we do and understand it then we can chance and control our behavior better. We can also gain a better understanding of other people who may be dishonest. This is especially important in our society because corporations and politicians are always lying and cheating.

I also included an animated video I found on youtube that talks about some parts of the book.

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