Sign up for A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior. It’s not only FREE and open to everyone, but will surely keep you amused for the next six weeks.
BTW, did you pay the royalties for using the Pink Panther music? ;-)
hahahahaha, this is an excellent comment……….
and yes, I’d like to read the answer to that……….
Wow, the guy stealing from the office acts like a real thief.
It’s great seeing you teach a class on Coursera. I’ve been taking classes on this platform for about a year now.
This is the first time I am taking a course online. Would like to know, the timing of the online lectures etc.
So, why do we steal office supplies but not cash?
Off the top of my head, the first explanation is that we would be fired and maybe face legal charges in the case of stealing cash, but not so in the case of the office supplies.
A contributory explanation might be that society views the stealing of cash as more blameworthy than the stealing of office supplies of equal value. And the agent, being a member of society and having internalized these societal norms, acts on the basis of them, and is also able to maintain her self-image as a moral person despite the theft. Of course, this kind of begs the initial question: Why does society have these norms against stealing cash, but not against stealing office supplies?
Well, maybe because office supplies are usually cheap, so they don’t register in our brains as things stolen. Whereas an equal amount of cash would register as something stolen. In other words, even small amounts of cash can be associated with theft, but low value products don’t get associated with theft in the same degree as cash – but we wouldn’t steal them from a supermarket for fear of the embarassment if we got caught.
So, why are cheap things not associated with theft as much as equally small amounts of cash do? I would venture that it has to do with the frequency that the two kinds of theft have been occurring in the history of humankind. Cash has always been an object of theft, whereas office supplies has only recently been such an object – corporations and office supplies are things of the 20th century, cash is far older. So society has developed the appropriate norm of condemning the cash theft, but not yet the norm of condemning equally harshly the office supplies theft.
That’s just my spontaneous intuition, if i knew the answer to such questions i wouldn’t have been taking your course!
@ DAN ARIELY
Dan, the following pdf-link from the Pre-course Recommended Reading is unreadable from page two onwards, the letters are cut in half:
Kahneman, D. (2003). Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics. The American Economic Review, 93(5), 1449-1475
Have you searched the discussion fora to see whether this problem has already been resolved?
No, i will, thanks for telling me.
Yes, the problem has been resolved, someone posted another link for the same content, and it’s readable. Sorry to have bothered you in here, i should have thought about the discussion fora.
I like what you are doing Dan. It is becoming almost acceptable to steal money too. Let men know if you are available, I have a scam that could net us thousands tax free.
The link takes me to a page that never loads up.
Can you help check or send another link please?
Thank you, Mitchel
Is it possible to participate even though I live in Finland? And will there be a second chance? I’m really interesting in participating but I’m about to travel around Europe in two weeks, meaning that I won’t be able to follow through…
Readers, I’m taking this course right now, and it’s truly great. I am learning so much, and can’t stop raving about the course to my friends. I strongly encourage other readers to sign up. Even if it’s too late for you to get “credit” from the quizzes, the lectures are still available and you’ll benefit just from hearing what Dan has to say. Plus, he’s a fantastic lecturer. Professor Ariely, thanks for a great course!
I wonder what would happen, if the ideas of the “dishonesty” experiments are combined with the concepts of “social/market norms” chapter.
Most people have no problems with stealing a pen from work. At the same time most people reject the idea of stealing money. Now, how would people feel if all the objects had price tags attached to them?
The two don’t seem remotely comparable to me. First, the office supplies are used by me on a daily basis, so it’s easy for me to accidentally walk home with a Sharpie. Second, the used items don’t have an obvious resale value, I’m not trading it for lunch and neither would the corp. Third, I don’t nickle and dime the corporation about every extra 10 minutes it takes of my time either – much of it coerced, on vacation, or weekends. Finally, I think there is an assumption that the corporation orders items in bulk and pays lower per-item cost for that highlighter that doesn’t come back to work from the time I used it telecommuting.
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Hi, I’m Dan Ariely. I do research in behavioral economics and try to describe it in plain language. These findings have enriched my life, and my hope is that they will do the same for you.
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