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What Dropping 17,000 Wallets Around The Globe Can Teach Us About Honesty

Scientists used "lost" wallets to test whether people are more likely to be dishonest when they might profit. The results were puzzling — so they put more money in the wallets.
Researchers dropped more than 17,000 wallets with varying amounts of money in countries around the world. Here, an example of the wallets that held the most money. Source: Christian Zünd

So picture this: You're a receptionist at, say, a hotel. Someone walks in and says they found a lost wallet but they're in a hurry. They hand it to you. What would you do?

And, would that answer be different if it was empty or full of cash?

Those are questions researchers have been exploring; today, they published their findings in the journal Science.

The experiment started small, with a research assistant in Finland turning in a few wallets with different amounts of money. He'd walk up to the counter of a big public place, like a bank or a post office.

"Acting as

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