by Michael Lowrey
The Economist reports on some interest research on how living under socialism influences people. A group of Germans, some formerly East German, others formerly West German, were asked to roll a die, predict the outcome, and report the results. They were paid a modest sum based upon their results. The way this was intentionally structured was to make it quite easy to cheat, rolling the dice first and then “predicting” the roll. The results:
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.
The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example. All the same, when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one.