In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely discusses the practice of devising, employing, analyzing, and examining the use of dishonesty and cheating in business. The book offers a broad perspective on dishonesty and attempts to teach readers about the rational and irrational uses of such behavior. One of the main points in the book is that it is difficult to recognize the forces that affect decision making and foster dishonesty. Dishonesty is, in truth, an irrational tendency, but it is pervasive, and people do not instinctively know how it works or what power it has over them. Ariely asserts that people are not helpless in the face of imperfections such as dishonesty. A better understanding of what causes less than admirable behavior can lead to methods of controlling such behavior.
The strategic and emotional use of dishonesty and cheating in the workplace includes several key aspects:
- Dishonesty is comprised of three elements:the benefit gained from the cheating, the chances of getting caught, and the punishment that may follow if one is caught.
- It is very difficult to alter behavior in a more ethical and moral direction.Understanding the mechanisms involved in dishonesty is complex, and deterring dishonesty is not an easy task.
- Doing favors for each other creates an inherent conflict.When a person is helped in some way by someone, there is an inherent feeling of indebtedness. That feeling can change thought processes and increase the inclination to return the favor, even if it means using dishonesty and cheating.
- Resisting the temptation to lie takes considerable effort and energy.People are continually tempted throughout the day, and the basic ability to battle these temptations weakens with time and exhaustion.
- A single act of dishonesty can change a person’s behavior from that point forward. It can shape a person’s self-image and future actions. Because of this, the first dishonest act is the most important one to prevent.
- People may not always know exactly why they do what they do,but this does not stop them from creating perfectly logical reasons for their actions, decisions, and feelings.
- Cheating is infectious and can be increased by observing the bad behavior of others. Social forces may work to increase cheating and dishonesty within a group setting.
The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty provides a detailed look at how people employ cheating and dishonesty on a regular basis. Readers from all backgrounds would benefit from the many surveys, tests, and fact-based tenets in the book. The book is filled with interesting scientific tests, step-by-step processes, and easy-to-follow cause-and-effect examples. Various models and examples are used liberally to provide data, which supports the ongoing narrative about dishonesty and its effects. The flow of the book serves to take readers through the many aspects of lying, from white lies to creative dishonesty, so itis best read from cover to cover.