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World’s most honest cities revealed


Reporters ‘lose’ wallets to test sincerity.


November 5, 2013 5:34 by

There’s possibly no greater feeling on earth than having a valuable possession that you’ve lost – such as an expensive mobile phone, jewellery or wallet – returned to you by an honest individual. Aside from the relief and gratitude that washes over you, it reinstills or solidifies your faith in humanity.

However, how do you measure the honesty or integrity of an entire city? Do you purposely ‘lose’ one wallet and wait to see if an honest person decides to return it? Not quite, you lose 12.

In September, Reader’s Digest (RD) decided to conduct an experiment to identify the most honest cities around the world. Its reporters ‘lost’ wallets in 16 cities – 12 wallets in each city – and waited to see how many of them would be returned. They were dropped on sidewalks, in parks and near shopping malls, and contained a cell phone number, family photo, some coupons, business cards and the equivalent of $50 in local currency.

Based on the number of wallets returned, RD was able to rank the 16 most – and least – honest cities. Helsinki, in Finland, won first place, with 11 out of 12 wallets returned, followed by Mumbai (nine out of 12), New York and Budapest (eight out of 12), and Amsterdam (seven out of 12).

Lisbon, in Portugal, turned out to be the most dishonest city, as only one wallet was given back.

However, the majority of cities involved in the experiment were based in Europe, with only New York representing the US and Brazil from South America. Australia, the Middle East region and Asia (with the exception of Mumbai, in India) were left out of the study.

It would be interesting to conduct this experiment across cities in the Middle East region. Which city do you think would turn out to be the most honest and sincere? Share your thoughts via Facebook, Twitter or in the comments box below. 


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