A young man took to the street to challenge the honesty of his fellow citizens with the “dropped wallet” test. He dropped his wallet in sight of passersby, and they all caught up with him to return it. He then took the experiment one step further: What would happen if someone found his wallet just lying there on the ground, with no owner in sight? The wallet contained a metro card, a Chase credit card, and $100 in cash.
A young man, dressed in hip hop style clothing stopped and picked it up. The cameras followed him as he made a phone call, and then went to the mall for some shopping. When the patron took out a blue Chase credit card, the experimenters were sure he was using the found card to rack up some stolen swag.
Next they found the man checking the ID in the wallet and heading over to the address listed on the identification.
When they caught up to the finder of the wallet, he was about to ring the doorbell of the address listed on the ID. The owner of the wallet asked him about his bags of merchandise that he assumed was purchased with the found credit card. This turned out to be untrue as the other man produced his own Chase blue card, the one he had used for his purchases.
When offered the $100 in the wallet as a reward, the honest man was reluctant to take it, saying he was only doing the right thing. The owner of the wallet (also the conductor of the experiment) insisted he take it.
The experiment goes to show that you can’t judge people from outward appearances.
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