The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely [Book Summary – Review]

The vast majority of us might want to accept that we’re acceptable, legit individuals, however tragically that is false: we’re all cheaters. 

While most of us may not be miscreants on an excellent scale, each day we are persuaded – typically nonsensically – to lie, hoodwink, and cheat somehow. Also, cheating is all over: in our schools, at the workplace, in the home and – as self-trickery – even as far as we could tell. 

In any case, for what reason would we say we are so unscrupulous? 

In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, a conduct financial specialist and creator Dan Ariely researches the many, regularly restricting powers that persuade us to cheat and lie – and to remain legit. 

Utilizing numerous analyses intended to uncover the drivers and boundaries of cheating –, for example, one’s ethical sense, physical and mental weariness, allurement – Ariely presents a captivating assessment of the deceitfulness in its numerous contemporary structures. 

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Chapter 1 – There is no lack of lying, cheating, and debasement in our general public today.

Do you believe that simply a “few bad apples” are liable for a large portion of the cheating on the planet, or that the issue is, in reality, more boundless? 

Sadly, the right answer is the last mentioned: We all cheat. 

Take, for instance, a blessing shop situated in a Washington DC expressions focus, which was run like a customary “lemonade stand,” utilizing only a money box rather than a sales register. 

Even though business was acceptable, every year $150,000 would disappear. 

The association looked for the hoodlum, ultimately finding and excusing the representative they accepted was taking the cash. 

That should’ve been the finish of the issue. Nonetheless, cash kept on vanishing. 

At long last, the association concluded it ought to deal with the shop all the more carefully, setting up a stock framework with value records and deals records. 

It worked: starting thereon, no more cash disappeared. 

All in all, who took such cash? 

It worked out that, up and down, the issue was one cheat, however some benevolent volunteers who each took only a limited quantity of money. 

Cheating here and there happens on a lot more fantastic scope. Think about the case of Enron, perhaps the biggest firm in the United States, which had made its gigantic progress by methods for a progression of “imaginative” bookkeeping procedures. 

Enron’s workers had been “cooking the books” or lying about their incomes and benefits. Also, they were helped by experts, rating organizations, and Enron’s top managerial staff, every one of whom chose to disregard the trickery. 

As the untruths spread all through Enron, the trickiness strengthened. At last, when the fact of the matter was disclosed, the organization fell. 

If it were genuine that simply a “few bad apples” were liable for the greater part of the cheating on the planet, the issue may be genuinely simple to unravel. In any case, as we’ll find in the accompanying parts, the majority of the world’s trickery is comprised of a wide range of and unpretentious sorts of exploitative acts that every one of us routinely rehearses. 

Chapter 2 – Cheating did not depend exclusively on reasonable thinking.

How would we choose whether or not to cheat or lie in a particular circumstance? 

As per the predominant thought of cheating, the miscreant or liar settles on a balanced choice dependent on the accompanying variables: 

  • What amount would I be able to pick up from the wrongdoing? 
  • What is the likelihood of getting captured? 
  • On the off chance that I am gotten, what’s the normal discipline? 

By gauging benefits against costs, individuals choose whether or not to cheat. 

In reality, be that as it may, with regards to cheating, individuals don’t act in such an objective way. 

Right off the bat, the odds of cheating don’t increment as per the expected increases. 

Think about this examination, directed by the creator: two gatherings of members were approached to tackle comparable numerical issues. For each one tackled, the members would get 50 pennies. 

By and large. The subsequent gathering, whose work went unchecked, professed to have tackled six issues by and large. 

All in all, the subsequent gathering cheated. In any case, the measure of cheating didn’t increment when members were guaranteed up to $10 for each right answer. 

Besides, the likelihood of getting captured isn’t as large an impact on our choice to cheat as we would suspect – as the creator exhibited in a minor departure from the above investigation. 

This time around, there were three unique gatherings and conditions. 

In the primary, members were permitted to shred half of their worksheets before giving them in and getting paid. 

In both the second and third gatherings, the whole sheet could be destroyed, however, in the last gathering, the members were additionally taught to pay themselves from an enormous bowl of money. 

The outcome? 

Numerous members cheated. Be that as it may, the measure of cheating was the equivalent overall conditions. All in all, the chances of being gotten had no impact on the members’ choice to cheat. 

Chapter 3 – Our ethical quality is associated with the measure of bamboozling we’re alright with.

As we’ve seen, individuals don’t cheat all the more since they’re given the chance. 

All in all, what prevents us from cheating however much as could reasonably be expected? 

In short: our profound quality. 

Individuals generally need to deal with two contradicting driving forces: to excel by unscrupulous methods and to believe themselves to be acceptable, legit individuals. 

Think about this situation: the creator welcomed a refined business specialist – really a comic in a mask – to come and address his understudies. The visitor continued to offer the understudies numerous tips on the best way to prevail through cheating. 

Before the finish of the talk, the understudies were intrigued by the guidance they’d heard, yet couldn’t resist feeling upset by the “consultant’s” unequivocal suggestion to cheat. 

From one viewpoint, the understudies found the guidance normal, and enticing. Then again, something was keeping them from concurring wholeheartedly with it. Even though individuals should cheat, their feeling of ethical quality advises them not to proceed with it. 

Also, in case we’re helped to remember the normal moral guidelines before we’re enticed to cheat, our ability to cheat is additionally lessened. 

For instance, consider the numerical analysis portrayed in the past section, a minor departure from which was led by the creator under two new conditions. 

Before the number related test starts, the main gathering is approached to review the Ten Commandments, while the second is told to review ten books they concentrated on in secondary school. Subsequently, the two gatherings are tricked into undermining the mathematical test. 

At the point when the creator directed this analysis, he noticed the standard thing, moderate cheating in the subsequent gathering. Yet, in the principal gathering, no swindling occurred by any stretch of the imagination. 


The ethical code they were helped to remember in advance had impacted their conduct, making them hesitant to cheat. 

In this way, from one viewpoint, we want the advantages that come from cheating, and, on the other, we’re apprehensive about acting shamelessly. 

Yet, how does the vast majority settle this issue? As we’ll find in the accompanying sections, they use strategies for defense and self-trickiness. 

Chapter 4 – Cheating results from a cycle of defense and self-trickiness.

Is it workable for us to receive the benefits of cheating while at the same time seeing ourselves as legitimate individuals? Truth be told, the appropriate response is a conclusive “YES!” – we’re particularly innovative with regards to legitimizing our untrustworthy conduct. 

We should return quickly to the number related test explore. At first, members were placed responsible for checking their test outcomes, which drove them to cheat a bit: to improve their outcomes, they supplanted their off-base answers with the right ones. 

A short time later, the members were approached to foresee how well they could take care of similar numerical statements on the off chance that they couldn’t check their outcomes. 

The members anticipated that their degree of numerical capacity would be the equivalent, regardless of whether they had the option to cheat. As such, they’d bamboozled themselves into accepting that the capacity they showed when cheating was their real capacity. 

Another way we misdirect ourselves concerning our deceptive nature is that we’ll acknowledge our conning all the more effectively when there are “ventures” among ourselves and the unscrupulous demonstration. 

As such, the bigger the mental separation among ourselves and the activity, the more effectively we pardon ourselves for cheating. 

For instance, we as a whole realize that we shouldn’t take cash. In any case, taking items that were bought with cash is by all accounts less tricky because there’s a mental separation between the demonstration itself and the cash in question. 

Take, for instance, the accompanying analysis directed by the creator. In an understudy house, a six-pack of Coke is put in one fridge and a few $1 greenbacks in another. 

In the two cases, the understudies would’ve realized that the cash and the Coke have a place with another person, so they were beyond reach. 

The outcome? While the cash stayed immaculate in the cooler, each container of Coke was taken. 

The explanation? There was an adequate separation between the criminal and the untrustworthy demonstration. 

The creators call the difficult exercise between the clashing inspirations to succeed and to act ethically intellectual adaptability. As opposed to any judicious money-saving advantage investigation, this adaptability is the primary inward driver behind our deceitfulness. In the following sections, we’ll go to take a gander at the outside components which make us inclined to cheat. 

Chapter 5 – Fatigue makes us more inclined to lie and cheat.

Envision getting back home following a difficult day at work. You’re depleted, cantankerous, and starving – it’s a take-out night, without a doubt. 

For what reason do we will in general settle on unfortunate cheap food following a tiring day? 

After we think carefully seriously – causing alleged intellectual strain – we’re all the more handily enticed. This was exhibited in the accompanying trial. 

A gathering of individuals is quickly demonstrated a two-digit number, at that point requested to retain it, leave and recount the number in another room. 

In transit, they pass a truck offering chocolate cake and solid-looking foods grown from the ground told that they can eat possibly the one after they have recounted the number. However, there’s a trick: they need to settle on their decision now. 

A similar technique is rehashed with a subsequent gathering, with a significant contrast: this gathering is given a seven-digit number to recall. 

The outcome? 

Each gathering’s decision to bite relied upon the number of digits they needed to remember. Those members who needed to recollect the seven-digit number all the more much of the time picked chocolate cake. 

However, the intellectual strain does not just improve the probability of capitulating to enticement; it likewise makes individuals cheat.


Take, for instance, this investigation: Participants are isolated into two gatherings. The first is told to compose a short paper without utilizing the letters “a” and “n” – an exceptionally dubious undertaking – and afterward take care of a mathematical question. 

The subsequent gathering is likewise approached to compose an exposition without utilizing “x” and “z” (a moderately simple errand). They additionally need to tackle a numerical statement. 

Since the two gatherings were permitted to shred their worksheets before detailing the number of inquiries they addressed accurately, the open door for tricking was extraordinary. 

Indeed, the two gatherings cheated – however, the measure of cheating in the main gathering was multiple times as high as in the subsequent gathering. 

Chapter 6 – The basic demonstration of wearing phony creator garments can make us cheat all the more frequently and doubt others.

Eventually in our carries on with, countless of us have worn phony creator garments. Notwithstanding, which of those individuals would’ve speculated that this irrelevant demonstration of untruthfulness could influence them in unforeseen, negative ways? 

Truth be told, test proof shows a connection between’s wearing fakes and the probability of performing other deceptive acts. 

In one trial, three gatherings of members were given fashioner shades. The first is informed that the glasses are real, the second that they are fakes, and the third is given no data with regards to the glasses’ realness. 

At that point members needed to take a mathematical test where they were allowed a chance to cheat. 

The outcome? As per the measure of conning obvious in the third gathering (who were given no data about the glasses), the normal degree of tricking was 42 percent. 

In any case, in different gatherings the outcomes were very extraordinary: In the principal gathering, the positive mental self-view caused by the members’ faith in the glasses’ validness implied that only 30% undermined the test. However, in the subsequent gathering, the negative impact of wearing fakes was huge to the point that a fantastic 74 percent of the members cheated. 

As this shows, submitting one deceptive act (for this situation, wearing phony originator shades) expands the odds of submitting another. 

That as well as wearing fakes can even make us more dubious of others. 

In another test, the creator again furnishes three gatherings with shades under similar three conditions as in the past. 

After having sufficient opportunity to make the most of their shades, the gatherings are approached to finish a review assessing the profound quality of others. 

The outcome was that, in examination with different gatherings, those members who realized they were wearing fake glasses decided their colleagues as bound to act untrustworthily. 

Chapter 7 – The more socially adequate cheating has all the earmarks of being, the more we’re probably going to cheat.

Up until now, we’ve taken a gander at the self-trickiness behind a person’s untrustworthy conduct. Be that as it may, shouldn’t something be said about the social parts of cheating? Would dishonesty be able to be sent from individual to individual? 

Indeed, unscrupulousness can spread using the cycle of social infection, through which comparative conduct spreads among people. 

This appears in the accompanying analysis: members are part of gatherings and set a numerical test under varying conditions. For every difficulty they unravel effectively, the members get cash. 

One gathering is allowed the chance to cheat: the members’ finished worksheets are destroyed and they report the number of mathematical questions they illuminated. 

In another gathering, be that as it may, a social component is presented: not long after the test starts, a (phony) member ascends from her seat and shouts: “I’ve wrapped up! I illuminated everything!” 

Although clearly, she cheated, the member is settled completely before the entire gathering. 

The outcome? 

While members in the previous gathering do cheat somewhat, those in the last gathering cheat significantly more: the members guarantee to have unraveled about double the quantity of answers they got right. By seeing a solitary individual pulling off cheating, the other members’ propensity to cheat expanded significantly. 

Moreover, it’s not in every case genuine that being in a gathering limits the probability of cheating – as can be found in the following examination. 

In gatherings of two, members work together on a mathematical test. On the off chance that the accomplices simply notice one another, cheating doesn’t happen. However, on the off chance that they’re likewise allowed to talk, the members discover that they could commonly profit by acting untrustworthily – along these lines the gatherings wind up cheating. 


There are two powers at work here: When the members just watch one another, they’re successfully overseeing each other, which cutoff points cheating. However, when they’re ready to banter, benevolent propensities arise: deceiving increments among members when colleagues can profit by their untrustworthy conduct. 

Chapter 8 – We can check cheating simply by seeing precisely why individuals act untrustworthy.

Since you’ve taken in about untrustworthy conduct, how might you utilize this information to monitor such conduct? 

To start with, you need to consider the brain science of cheating. Take, for instance, the accompanying circumstance. 

A lady understood that her housekeeper had been taking meat from the cooler each couple of days. What did she do? 

Her first demonstration was to put a lock on the cooler. At that point, she told the servant that she speculated a few people who at times worked at the house, and hence just the house cleaner and herself should be keyholders. Additionally, she gave the housekeeper a little raise to make up for the expanded duty. 

Does accomplished her methodology work? Truly. 

Why? There are a few purposes behind her arrangement’s prosperity, and every one of them is associated with the inspirations for cheating introduced in the past parts: 

1. By locking the cooler, the lady controlled the house keeper’s impulse to cheat. 

2. By focusing on the obligation of the housekeeper she made the servant feel nearer to the exploitative demonstration. Having to deliberately utilize the key delivered the demonstration of taking more hard to legitimize. 

3. By entrusting the way into the servant, the lady set up trustworthiness as the accepted practice in her family. 

Another approach to restricting exploitative conduct is to diminish the impulse to cheat. 


This can frequently be accomplished by lessening the irreconcilable circumstances in circumstances where individuals are compensated for acting contrary to their concurred job. 

For instance, the function of a specialist is to deal with patients’ actual wellbeing. However, at times, specialists get a reward from drug organizations at whatever point they recommend their medications to patients. 

The outcome is an irreconcilable situation, where the specialist is enticed to cheat by recommending pointless medications to patients. 

To reduce the specialist’s allurement, the irreconcilable circumstance ought to be taken out: specialists ought to be restricted from getting cash from drug organizations.

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely Book Review

Cheating is a far-reaching wonder. Shockingly, the greater part of the drivers of our untruthfulness is not normal ones, as we may expect, but rather nonsensical ones. By finding out about the brain science of cheating, we empower ourselves to control unscrupulous conduct, both in ourselves and in others. 

Examine your inspirations. 

Whenever you discover yourself cheating, attempt to dissect your inspirations. Ask yourself: “For what reason did I cheat?” Did you act judiciously for your narrow-minded interest? Or then again would you be able to think about another explanation? Figuring out how to get yourself at the time of cheating, and finding your inspirations for lying, will be extraordinary assistance whenever you wind up enticed to cheat. 

Rest before you get worn out. 

One outer factor in cheating is mental and actual weariness. In this state, we’re bound to yield to allurement, cheat, and untruth. It’s significant, at that point, that – where conceivable – you don’t let yourself become over-tired. All things considered, ensure you take standard breaks and rest before you end up depleted and prone to cheat.

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