19 Nov 2013

Honor, science and the Dutch

Read this amazing article on the Dutch Professor who falsified most of his social psychology research.

Then consider how the Dutch responded when he wrote a book on his experiences:
When Stapel's book came out, it got a mixed reception from critics, and it angered many in the Netherlands who thought it dishonorable of him to try to profit from his misdeeds. Within days of its release, the book appeared online in the form of PDFs, posted by those who wanted to damage his chances of making money.
The Dutch are much more community-minded than the Americans, because they have a long history of interdependence (you need your neighbors because you cannot maintain the dike by yourself; Americans do not, because they can just move to a new location).

I saw this in action six months ago, when a truck backed over a street post (ingeniously designed to tip over rather than do greater damage to a car hitting in) near my place in Amsterdam. I stopped to take a picture of the truck, as did a Dutch woman. But neither of us needed to turn in the driver. I saw him parked at the "scene of the crime" an hour later, because (1) he knew that others saw him and/or (2) he knows that his job -- as a Dutcher -- is to be responsible for his actions to the community.

Bottom Line: Transaction costs are lower when people behave with honor towards their community. They are more likely to do so when they realize that their actions -- and consequences -- are part of a repeated game.

H/T to DL

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