At a time when the economy is still showing signs of stuttering and the harsh and strident nature of the national dialogue, the Honest Tea experiment, conducted by Coca Cola-owned company by the same name emphatically proves one thing—Americans are more honest than most Americans believe.
The survey, dubbed as the National Honesty Index, involved a simple honesty test for Americans across 60 locations spread over 50 states. An online Facebook version of the test boosted participation to 28,000 individuals with 95% of those surveyed passing the test.
The test is pretty simple. Tea stands are setup and people requested to honestly put $1 for each bottle of tea they take from the stand. Only one in every 20 individuals ended up cheating on the test. The remaining 19 persons deposited the $1 in the stand’s Lucite box without anybody tracking the payment.
As compared to 92% last year, Americans showed 95% honesty with Honolulu winning top spot for the second year with 100% honesty quotient. Languishing at the bottom with 80% honesty last year, Washington showed the most improvement by jumping to 96% honesty in the 2014 survey. This year’s laggard is Providence R.I, which had a honesty quotient of just 80%.
The online component of the survey involved receiving a free coupon for a bottle of Honest Tea through the FB app in exchange of the individual posting three non-commercial inspirational quotations on his or her wall. The survey showed people were honest on the Internet too—with 95% of the participants dutifully completing the quid pro quo for the coupon.
Whatever the public perception, blondes proved for the second year running that are more honest than others by scoring 95% as compared to 91% honesty quotient for redheads. Men lagged behind with a 93% score while women can boast about being not just the fairer sex but also the more honest sex with a 95% score.
Yet, the test had its share of individuals trying to cheat the system. Many individuals used subway cards or product wrappers to avoid paying a dollar for the tea. A San Diego resident set a new low in the test by actually attempting to steal money from the box.
This is why Robert Epstein, professor of psychology at The University of the South Pacific, opines that the test results be taken with a pinch of salt. According to him, people have simply proved they are honest at a particular time when confronted with a particular issue. A person who reacted honestly to the test may, in other situations, behave dishonestly.
Yet, the survey is surely a feel-good affair with many heartening stories of people going beyond plain honesty and doing a good deed. Monitors showed people paying on behalf of homeless persons unable to spare the dollar to help them enjoy the drink for free.