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How honest are you?

Posted on 08/03/2010

Monika Cernikova and Kirsty Flynn

They say honesty is the best policy and two students from Royal Holloway, University of London are putting the theory to the test on campus this week.


Monika Cernikova and Kirsty Flynn, two final year History and International Relations students believe the majority of people are honest and to prove this they are taking part in a social experiment all this week to raise money for charity and help them win an Apprentice style competition.


In Levitt and Dubner’s popular book ‘Freakonomics’, published in 2005, they tell the story of a bagel business man who simply leaves out baskets of bagels in city offices all priced at $1 along with ‘honestly boxes’, trusting that his customers would do the right thing, and pay for their bagel. He found that on average 87% of office workers are truthful, and do pay even when the point of sale is unsupervised.


The students have used this idea and all this week will be selling bags of sweets for £1 at stands located in the foyer of Bedford Library and the reception area of the Management Building.


The stands will be unmanned but an honesty box will be positioned next to the sweets for people to deposit their money into. All the proceeds will go to the Prince’s Trust, a youth charity that helps change young lives.


The pair saw an advert by Royal Holloway Entrepreneurs for people to enter a competition to see who could get the best return for £50. The society has given the students the money which they have spent buying the sweets and helping with marketing. The students are confident they will be proved correct and people will give generously.


Kirsty said, “We thought it would be a really interesting experiment to see if people are as honest as the Freakonomics book suggests, as well as raising money for a good cause at the same time. We think the majority of people are honest and we look forward to proving that once the week is over.”


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