Give People(liars) Time to Reflect Before Answering, and Isolate Them From Excuses.

Honesty requires time (and lack of justifications) [Shalvi et al]:

the average roll, if people reported honestly, should have been 3.5. This gave them a baseline from which to calculate participants’ honesty. Those forced to enter their results within 20 seconds, the researchers found, reported a mean roll of 4.6. Those who were not under any time pressure reported a mean roll of 3.9. 

This in an experiment with a reward of about $10 for lying.

My guess: immediate temptation to cheat for $10 if you think you can get away with it. On reflection, caution accelerates:

1. The gain is small.
2. Maybe people will find out via mechanism X I didn’t think of (hidden cameras?)
3. maybe my report of 6 will be suspicious. maybe a 5 … no, may as well just go with my original 3 …
4. How will I feel having cheated? How good will I feel going away having a story of how I was honest even when it cost me?
5. I want to impress my psych teacher with how honest we college freshmen are.
6. Now that I’ve hesitated so long, I feel even more cautious. I’ve spent so much time deliberating, when I could have just taken the extra $5 immediately … I must actually not want to cheat.

Perhaps also noteworthy: the above experiment was with 3 dice rolls, but the instruction to report the first. In a second experiment with only 1 die roll, the averages result claimed by both the hurry-up and take-your-time groups was 0.2-0.4 lower. This suggest that people in the 3 die roll group felt more comfortable cheating by reporting the 2nd or 3rd roll, perhaps in their mind lamely equating it with what could have been the 1st roll, or having a justification ready of having honestly misunderstood (I doubt anyone did honestly misunderstand). A difference of 0.2 is surely significant (comparing between N=76 and N=74 freshmen under the 3-dice and 1-die conditions).

via (a not very useful Economist article, if you’ve read this far).