Tuesday, August 7, 2018
The Honest Truth About Dishonesty
The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, written by Dan Ariely, shows the constant internal struggle between the impulsive (or emotional) and the rational (or deliberative) parts of ourselves. When we lie, not only do we lie to others, but also to ourselves. Throughout this book, Ariely reveals our motivation behind cheating. The biggest factor associated with cheating is the psychological distance between you and cheating. This "distance" helps make it easier for you to accept the act of cheating. The most interesting thing about this book is that Ariely conducts many specific experiments throughout the book to support his claims on why people choose to cheat and how to keep ourselves honest. Unethical behavior affects all of us, whether we admit it or not.
My favorite part was Chapter 5. I like to refer to this chapter as the "Fake It Till You Make It" chapter. The reason why I found this chapter so hysterical was because it immediately made me think about my little sister. So many times she would come home crying to my mom about how she wanted some designer purse. After reading this book, of course I had to question her on this topic. Immediately she got offended when I said the word "fake" when asking about one of her purses. Her response was that she would never buy a fake purse because she would feel too guilty flaunting it around as a $1,000 purse. This concept started to make Ariely wonder about the relationship between what we wear and how we behave. Though wearing a genuine product does not increase our honesty, wearing a counterfeit product does increase our dishonesty.
This part also makes me think of our lecture slides about Cognitive Evolution Theory, or how a person evaluates reason for their behavior. Although buying counterfeit products is obviously dishonest, people justify their behavior by saying the name brand products are "too expensive." Ariely concluded that those with counterfeit products still carried them with the same confidence as those with the real products. This is because not only are they lying to those around them, but they have also tricked their minds into thinking they have the real product if they flaunt it like one. If it is so easy for them to lie about a purse, just imagine how easy it is for them to lie about other little things.
There is a specific part in Chapter 4 titled "Let Us Eat Cake." I immediately drew a connection to our lecture slides when this part brought up the story of Odysseus and the Sirens. The meaning behind the story was about self-control. Odysseus knew he would be tempted by the Sirens' song. Knowing that he wanted to get home to Penelope and knowing that the Sirens' song would make then men listen for days, he acted early when he had control. He had the self-control to prevent himself from even being tempted by filling his ears with wax to muffle the call. This story shows that we have two choice: to control our temptations or let our temptations control us.
This book has been a huge eye opener. We never realize just how much we lie on a daily basis. The most important aspect this book reveals is why we do what we do. The better understanding we have about why we participate in such unethical behavior, the better chance we have to be able to control it. Ariely admits from the beginning that everyone, from time to time, cheats. It is our duty to instill a moral compass in our future children, while also maintaining our own.