The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty Book Summary - The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty Book explained in key points
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How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves

4.1 (111 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely explores why people lie and cheat, and how we can create systems to prevent it. It challenges the notion that only a select few are dishonest and instead shows how our environment influences our decisions.

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    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty
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    There is no shortage of lying, cheating and corruption in our society today.

    Do you think that just a “few bad apples” are responsible for most of the cheating in the world, or that the problem is actually more widespread?

    Unfortunately, the correct answer is the latter: We all cheat.

    Take, for example, a gift shop located in a Washington DC arts center, which was run like a traditional “lemonade stand,” using just a cash box instead of a cash register.

    Although business was good, each year $150,000 would go missing.

    The organization searched for the thief, eventually finding and dismissing the employee they believed was stealing the money.

    That should've been the end of the matter. However, money continued to disappear.

    Finally, the organization decided it should manage the shop more strictly, setting up an inventory system with price lists and sales records.

    It worked: from that point on, no more money went missing.

    So, who stole all that money?

    It turned out that, all along, the problem was not just one thief, but many well-meaning volunteers who each took just a small amount of cash.

    Of course, cheating sometimes occurs on a much grander scale. Consider the example of Enron, one of the largest firms in the United States, which had achieved its massive success by means of a series of “creative” accounting techniques.

    Essentially, Enron's employees had been “cooking the books” or lying about their revenues and profits. Moreover, they were assisted by consultants, rating agencies and Enron's board of directors, all of whom turned a blind eye to the deception.

    As the lies spread throughout Enron, the deception intensified. Ultimately, when the truth was made public, the company collapsed.

    If it were true that just a “few bad apples” were responsible for most of the cheating in the world, the problem might be fairly easy to solve. However, as we’ll see in the following blinks, most of the world's deception is actually made up of many different and subtle kinds of dishonest acts that each of us regularly practice.

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    What is The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty about?

    Using various experiments to uncover the hidden factors that drive us to cheat in everyday situations, author Dan Ariely finds that certain anticipated motivators – for example, money – actually don’t play a crucial role in our dishonesty. At the same time, other, quite unexpected forces influence us very strongly – for instance, the social acceptability of cheating, and even our altruistic tendencies.

    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty Review

    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty (2012) explores the psychology behind our dishonest behavior and offers valuable insights into the human condition. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Presents a fascinating exploration of why people lie, cheat, and deceive, tapping into the intricate workings of our minds and shedding light on our own behavior.
    • By conducting numerous experiments and sharing surprising findings, the book provides insightful revelations about the factors that influence our honesty and the consequences of our actions.
    • Offers a thought-provoking examination of the ethical implications of dishonesty, forcing readers to question their own behavior and providing a fresh perspective on the notion of truth.

    Who should read The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty?

    • Anyone who considers themselves to be a good, honest and honorable person
    • Anyone interested in the psychology of irrationality
    • Anyone who wonders why people constantly cheat and lie

    About the Author

    Dan Ariely is professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. His main field of interest is the psychology of irrationality. In addition to The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty,Ariely is the author of two other international bestsellers: Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality.

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    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty FAQs 

    What is the main message of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty?

    The main message of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty is that we are more likely to be dishonest than we think, and it's important to understand the factors that influence our behavior.

    How long does it take to read The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty?

    The reading time for The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty is a thought-provoking book that delves into the psychology of dishonesty. It is worth reading for those interested in understanding our behaviors and decision-making processes.

    Who is the author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty?

    The author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty is Dan Ariely.

    What to read after The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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