Why we lie, go to prison and eat cake: 10 questions with Dan Ariely

Published: Friday, June 22 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Our take: Dan Ariely shares insights into why honesty is about more than just cost benefit analysis.

If you thought that crime or dishonesty is driven by a cost-benefit analysis, then you have some very basic solutions ó for example, put people in prison. And people who were going to commit a crime would say, ĎOkay, Iíll go to prison, not worth it.í Iíve been talking to big cheaters, including people who have been to prison, and I tell you, nobody Iíve talked to has ever thought about the long-term consequences of their actions.

We talk about honesty, but the reality is we have lots of human values, and they are not all compatible. We donít always tell the truth about everything, no matter what the consequences. If you have an internal truth of what you think and you have an external truth of what you say to society, in the social domain itís called politeness, and itís many cases itís okay.

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