The Honest Truth About Dishonesty

  • by Dan Ariely
  • Narrated by Simon Jones
  • 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This program is enhanced with 14 never-before-heard episodes of Dan Ariely's "Arming the Donkeys" podcast, available exclusively on this audiobook!
The New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality returns with thought-provoking work to challenge our preconceptions about dishonesty and urge us to take an "honest" look at ourselves.
Does the chance of getting caught affect how likely we are to cheat? How do companies pave the way for dishonesty? Does collaboration make us more honest or less so? Does religion improve our honesty?
Most of us think of ourselves as honest, but, in fact, we all cheat. From Washington to Wall Street, the classroom to the workplace, unethical behavior is everywhere. None of us is immune, whether it's the white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning, bestselling author Dan Ariely turns his unique insight and innovative research to the question of dishonesty.
Generally, we assume that cheating, like most other decisions, is based on a rational cost-benefit analysis. But Ariely argues, and then demonstrates, that it's actually the irrational forces that we don't take into account that often determine whether we behave ethically or not. For every Enron or political bribe, there are countless hidden commissions, and knockoff purses.
In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about; how getting caught matters less than we think; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional, and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards.
But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives. With compelling personal and academic findings, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will change the way we see ourselves, our actions, and others.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

You Cheat (and I Do Too)

Dan Ariely's "Honest Truth About Dishonesty" is a nice divergence from his earlier books on irrationality, and contains much more original psychological research than these books. If you've enjoyed his prior books, you'll enjoy this one.

Ariely's books are all connected by the theme of how it is that we fool ourselves. In this work, Ariely shows that we're fooling ourselves and others just a little bit, almost all of the time through a number of clever experiments. What's particularly interesting is that Ariely finds that this cheating is not driven by cost/benefit tradeoffs -- the generally accepted rationale for why people cheat -- but, as in keeping with Ariely's prior work, cheating is found to be driven by less rational motivations. Changes in cost/benefit do matter, but opportunities for rationalization, the effect of social norms, and cognitive dissonance are at least equally important.

I don't know why Ariely keeps choosing Simon Jones to read his books. Jones is a great reader, but in a strongly British theatrical manner. Ariely, whom you'll get to hear in podcasts appended to the end of the book, or whom you may have heard on a TED talk, speaks American English with an Israeli accent. Further, the places Ariely writes about are almost always either in the US or Israel and almost never in England. If you know what the author sounds like, Jones seems to be a strange choice.
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- Douglas C. Bates


I am a huge fan of Dan Ariely. I have read his previous two books (predictably irrational) multiple times and recommended them to friends and co-workers. And he continues that same work in this book by describing the experiments he's done that deal mostly with honesty. Many of the experiments are repeats from what he has described in previous books -- which was okay with me, because I like to hear about them again.

If he had stuck with the same format as his previous books and described his clinical work only, that would have been best. But, he goes on to offer explanations of why he thinks people are dishonest and of course, none of that can be supported with any evidence.

And he makes some pretty big leaps to conclusions on why people do what they do in the experiments he conducts. It's one thing to measure the outcome, but his conclusions (while put forth as speculation) are not based on anything but his own reasoning and logic. Which may turn out to be true, but the fact is there is no way (at this time) to determine the "why" and just because that's what he thinks does not make it so.

(ie - the sun rises around the same time each morning. Good, we've established this as a fact. Now, for the why...well because it's driven by a god in a charriot, of course. At least that's what some people believed thousands of years ago, but that didn't make it true.)

We have no way of knowing why people cheat and lie. Yes, he can measure that we do and that it gets worse or better under different conditions, but it's a big, big leap from that place to saying they do it because of X. There is no way to know X. At least not at this time. So he shouldn't speculate -- even when he doesn't state it as a fact it still comes off as if he's sure he's got the right answer for the why.
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- Emily

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-05-2012
  • Publisher: HarperAudio