Lying Commies

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

An experiment last year tested Germans’ willingness to lie for personal gain:

Some 250 Berliners were randomly selected to take part in a game where they could win up to €6 ($8).

The game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40 times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the highest number.


The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.

(Hat tip to our Slovenian Guest.)


  1. Toddy Cat says:

    So, Communism destroys your moral fiber. Who woulda thunk it? Seriously, this also explains a lot about the plight of the former USSR — there is no one left who didn’t grow up under Communism.

  2. Rollory says:

    It’s not that simple. Wander around the downtown of certain former Soviet cities, you will see a lot more small-scale entrepreneurialism than in an American city (with the possible exception of Hispanic-run food trucks).

    It’s entirely possible this is because they must do so or starve, but the phenomenon is definitely noticeable.

    One of Moldbug’s claims is that communism is basically an anglo phenomenon that was exported abroad; he uses the analogy of a disease that is more severe in populations without some inherent resistance, but populations with inherent resistance have it because the disease is constantly present at some level, while those without have some hope of getting rid of it. I don’t know that I’m convinced of that — the relationship between Slavic villages and the village commons is rather different from the Anglo one, and deriving a partly communist inherent outlook from that isn’t impossible — but Moldbug is always worth at least thinking about.

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    How going green may make you mean
    Ethical consumers less likely to be kind and more likely to steal, study finds.

    When people feel they have been morally virtuous by saving the planet through their purchases of organic baby food, for example, it leads to the licensing of selfish and morally questionable behavior, otherwise known as moral balancing or compensatory ethics.

    Those in their study who bought green products appeared less willing to share with others a set amount of money than those who bought conventional products. When the green consumers were given the chance to boost their money by cheating on a computer game and then given the opportunity to lie about it — in other words, steal — they did, while the conventional consumers did not. Later, in an honor system in which participants were asked to take money from an envelope to pay themselves their spoils, the greens were six times more likely to steal than the conventionals.

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