Canadians with Religion Are More Likely to Lie for Money
At the University of Regina in Canada, a study has attempted to get some data about the tricky subject of people lying, especially where there is money to gain from the lie. One result of the study seemed to indicate that more than half the subjects were willing to lie to get a direct financial gain. The study was set up to let the subjects remain anonymous, and involved testing whether a person would give truthful information to another person in the test, knowing a lie would likely end up delivering more money to the person who told it.
The study split volunteers into teams of two, separated them, and set up a situation where two packages worth $5 and $7 in one version, or $5 and $15 in another version of the controlled study were to be divided between the two participants. Person A knows the amounts in the delivery, and is directed to tell the other person which is the higher amount. Person B gets to choose which to select (presumably the higher amount). Person A had the opportunity to be dishonest, with anonymity, and with no other impact on the study, except that lying could be counted on to be likely to return a few extra bucks to that person.
The creator of the study then connected the willingness to lie in the study for greater gain to other individual traits, which had been noted at the outset, including major area of study (the subjects were all college students), and other categories, including religion, family background, age, and some economic indicators, including student debt. The three largest indicators of willingness to lie in the study were religious identity (those that self-identified as more religious being more likely to use deceit for financial gain, although lying is classed as a sin in the main religions represented), being a child of a divorced couple, and being a business major.
The creators of the study seemed nonplussed by the last two indicators of higher levels of willingness to be deceitful, being familiar with prior studies that supported the notion that business majors as a class were ambitious and statistically more prone to value financial gain over moral values. Perhaps it is true, as the creator of the study postulates, that a religion that distinguishes itself as the one true faith, as most major faiths teach, creates a condition in which there are those who are inside those particular parameters of righteousness and those who are not of the flock, and perhaps for some with this worldview, it is easier to cheat a little for some extra money, as against those who are not of the same faith, even if lying is a sin in the belief system.
But for those who respect all as children of the same universe, such as the Universal Life Church teaches, the idea of damaging or harming another individual to benefit oneself would be anathema and would conflict also with the principle of doing good in the world. This may be closer to true religion, the notion that harming one causes harm to all.