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Honesty is an Overrated Virtue: An Annotated Bibliography

Ariely, Dan. The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves. New York: Harper Collins, 2012. Print. In this book, Dan Ariely explores psychological features of the “rational society”. It takes some imagination to think of society where everyone acts in his/her interests only, not bothering much about such things as honesty or morale. While it would seem perfectly normal for so many people to behave in exactly that way, Ariely demonstrates that the deep human nature is surprisingly decent. Despite numerous environmental and psychological forces that influence people’s daily lies, there is a tendency to remain honest in essence.

Coon, Dennis, and John Mitterer. Psychology: A Journey. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. This work of Coon and Mitterer is a comprehensive guide to the applied psychology. The chapter on honesty concept provides the reader with numerous factors that contribute to the people’s behavior. All types of personality features influence the decision to lie or to say the truth, as much as circumstances of the situation. Coon and Mitterer point out that the “trait” of honesty does not exist and all people’s lies happen due to the “situational determinants”. Such reasons are highly individual and result from life’s experience.

Fiedler, Klaus. Social Communication. New York: Psychology Press, 2007. Print. In his book, Klaus Fiedler addresses all aspects of social interactions. One of the most pronounced issues is the concept of honesty in a course of the social communication. Social lies are neither bad nor good, they are just there, common and abundant. Fiedler defines self-oriented and other-oriented lies based on the ultimate purpose of these actions. Self-oriented lies are intended to benefit the liar, while other-oriented lies are more “altruistic”. As well as other authors, Fiedler agrees that honesty is largely determined by the environment.

Miner, John, and Michael Capps. How Honesty Testing Works. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996. Print. This book of Miner and Capps demonstrates the intensity of the honesty issue in production environment. Apparently, employers (and most particularly, business owners) are obsessed with the idea of their employee’s cheating. The measures to which the employers resort in order to fight the real or imaginary theft are incredible. There is an interesting effect as well: the more strict measures are taken, the more dishonest some of the employees become. Eventually, Miner and Capps acknowledge that the technical measures are hopelessly insufficient to “enforce” the honesty.

Scott, Gini Graham. Playing the Lying Game. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2010. Print. In this most interesting work, Graham tries to categorize the lies by their objectives. Such an approach simplifies understanding the rules of the “lies game”. People lie to cover up opinions and feelings, to create a better appearance, to shorten or avoid unpleasant contacts, and to excuse their forgetfulness; there are millions of reasons that are thoroughly analysed and explained in this book. Graham explores all types of lies: at home, at work, at school, and in politics in a way of “psychological anatomization” of the human mind in different life’s circumstances.

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