Lost wallet study

A behavioral experiment across 40 countries that explored human motivations to return lost wallets to their owner

These lesson materials introduce students to a behavioral experiment that was conducted in the real world (and not just in the lab). This  experiment was conducted in 335 cities in  40 different countries around the world. Researchers distributed more than 17 000 wallets in different public places, handed them to a person and claimed they found it on the street. The wallets had contact information, and sometimes money and other items in them. The researchers wanted to know how many of the wallets would be returned to the owner. 

These experiments let us reflect on the nature of human altruism, honesty, self-interest, empathy, learned social norms, and their variation among individuals and cultures.

Author: Susan Hanisch

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