Saturday, April 12, 2014

158. Lessons in fighting corruption

The topics and findings of research that appear in newspapers now-a-days are quite amusing. I would have dismissed them as utter nonsense if they had not come out of the top universities in the world. One such research has been recently reported from the Harvard and Utah universities. Two researchers from these institutions conducted experiments to examine various unethical behaviors such as lying, stealing, and cheating.

In the experiments, participants were shown various patterns of dots on a computer. For each pattern, they were asked to identify whether more dots were displayed on the left or right side of the screen. They were offered 10 times the amount for selecting the right over the left. Participants, therefore, had a financial incentive to select the right, even if there were more dots on the left, which amounted to cheating. It was found that the participants tested between 8 a.m. and 12 noon were less likely to cheat than those tested during the next six hours. The researchers also tested the participants’ moral awareness in both the morning and afternoon. When presented with word fragments such as “_ _RAL” and “E_ _ _ C_ _” the morning participants tended to form the words “moral” and “ethical,” whereas the afternoon participants tended to form the words “coral” and “effects”.The researchers found the same pattern of results when they tested a sample of online participants from across the United States.

These experiments led the researchers to conclude that our ability to exhibit self-control to avoid cheating or lying is significantly reduced over the course of the day, making us more likely to be dishonest in the afternoon than in the morning. They also concluded that self-control can be depleted from a lack of rest and from making repeated decisions.

I feel, this research may be very useful for a corruption-ridden society like ours. Maybe, the Government can think of opening offices at 6 a.m. and closing at around lunch. If for any reason, offices have to be kept open after lunch, snooping must be intensified. Since our ability to remain ethical is impacted by lack of rest and too much of decision-making, it may help if, added to forenoon office hours, multiple breaks can be provided to enable the employees to be properly rested and incentives can be provided against decision-making. I will recommend cash awards for the employees who can show at the end of the year that they took sufficient rest during office hours and  took no decisions. Such honest employees are the need of the hour. They can take us out of our pathetic world ranking in honesty.

Examinations and tests should also be conducted in morning hours. Those who answer the least would be obviously the most rested and hence, the most honest. They must not be allowed to fail the tests.

I hope, the prominent crusaders against corruption have noted the results of the research.


Indrani said...

That was interesting!

Sai Charan said...

Interesting information!!

Sandhya said...

You are a dreamer to think of Indians to be honest in the morning hours! We are dishonest people and all 24 hours will be 'corrupt hours'!

But, yes, I have met some 'very honest' people who are always honest. Even the children are watching how we behave and follow us to the dot. I think this nature makes us look like serious people/unsmiling people.

But we can always dream...positive thinking!