Monday, March 08, 2010

Anonymity makes you selfish and dishonest

A fun little story in the FT about a paper published in the journal Psychological Science:

"In a series of experiments, academics from the Rotman School at the University of Toronto and Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discovered that wearing sunglasses - giving the illusion of darkness and a sense of anonymity led individuals to behave more selfishly. They also discovered that when faced with a series of tests linked to financial remuneration, those participants taking part in a darkened room tended to behave more dishonestly than those in a well-lit room."

Nothing that those familiar with secrecy jurisdictions don't know already.

The same FT article, in a slight non-sequitur, also contains the results of another piece of research on 15 banking executives, suggesting that bank bonuses don't work:

According to David De Cremer, “the need for giving bonuses within the banking world is a self-created myth”. . . top executives believe that bonuses are of more important to others than they are to themselves.

Prof De Cremer examined the bonus culture in the banking system. When questioned, leading executives saw big bonuses as essential for recruiting top talent, yet did not consider such rewards necessary for themselves."

Enough said. Now we have the BBC, adding this:

"It is something of an open secret in the City that British based bankers who have taken lower bonuses this year to spare the blushes and fiscal pain of their respective employers have been given unambiguous nods and winks that they'll be seen right in the next bonus round.

What a comfort!"


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