Would YOU own up if your restaurant bill was wrong? More than HALF of people would not admit to a mistake – but women are more likely than men to be honest, study reveals
- Customers were invited to a restaurant where they could order two items
- At the end of the meal, the bill came but one of the two items was missing
- More than half of the customers did not flag the issue with the bill
- Women were more likely to be honest about the mistake, as were those paying on credit card rather than with cash
It’s a moral dilemma that many of us have faced before – your bill arrives at the end of a meal and there’s an item missing. Do you report it to the waiter, or pay and leave?
If the answer is ‘pay and leave’, you’re not alone, as new research has revealed that more than half of people would not admit to a mistake on their bill.
However, it seems that women are slightly more honest than men, while paying with a credit card rather than cash also boosts our honesty.
It’s a moral dilemma that many of us have faced before – your bill arrives at the end of a meal and there’s an item missing. Do you report it to the waiter, or pay and leave? If the answer is ‘pay and leave’, you’re not alone, as new research has revealed that more than half of people would not admit to a mistake on their bill (stock image)
Key signs you’re lying
When someone tells a lie it is possible to catch them out, as they are more likely to speak slowly and put less emphasis in the middle of words, according to a study.
Researchers from Sorbonne University conducted a series of experiments designed to understand how we decide, based on voice alone, whether a speaker is honest.
They found that there was a signature in the voice of a liar – slower speech and less emphasis on the middle of a word – that the brain can automatically detect, even when not actively trying to determine whether someone is being honest or not.
It is hoped the discovery could be used to develop ‘light tools’ that police could use to determine whether a criminal is lying.
In the study, researchers from Tel-Hai College in Israel set out to understand customers’ capacity for honesty in real-life situations.
A group of 278 participants were asked to eat alone at a restaurant in Tel Aviv and order just two items from the menu, such as a coffee and a sandwich.
At the end of their meal, the participants were presented with their bill, but one of the two items they had eaten was missing.
The researchers found that the majority (169) of the participants failed to flag the error to their waiter.
However, a range of factors appeared to play in role in the decision of whether or not to raise the issue with the waiter.
Female customers were 16 per cent more likely to report the missing item than male customers.
And those customers whose more expensive item had been omitted reported the error twice as often.
Yossef Tobol, who led the study, said: ‘Our experiment reinforces the theory that people can tolerate a lower level of dishonesty and cheating when making moral decisions, as seen by the fact that people were less likely to tell their server an item was missing from their bill if it was the cheaper item that was missing.’
Meanwhile, the payment method also appeared to have an effect on the customers’ honesty.
Customers who paid for their meal with a credit card were 20 per cent more likely to flag the error than those paying in cash (stock image)
Customers who paid for their meal with a credit card were 20 per cent more likely to flag the error than those paying in cash.
‘Presumably, the reason is that paying with a credit card entails an additional encounter with the server who might then notice the error in the bill and cause customers embarrassment if failing to report it themselves,’ the researchers wrote in their study, published in the Journal of Economic Psychology.
‘Paying with a credit card seemingly acts as a deterrent to not reporting the error in the bill and may thus be linked to the monitoring effect identified in lab/online experiments of dishonesty.’
DO PEOPLE LIE MORE OR LESS IN THEIR SECOND LANGUAGE?
Research suggests that people are less likely to lie if they’re speaking in their mother tongue.
People fib more when talking in a second language because they are ‘less emotional’, scientists said.
Our first language is often more closely tied to our emotions, which makes us more vulnerable and therefore honest when we’re speaking it.
However, a second language is often associated with more rational thinking which means people feel more distant from it and so find it easier to lie.
Scientists at Bangor University and the University of Manchester found people who speak more than one language interpret facts differently depending on which one they are speaking.
They asked Welsh people who spoke fluent Welsh and English to rate sentences as true or false.
These sentences either had positive or negative connotations.
Participants showed a bias towards categorising positive statements – even if they were false – as being true in both languages.
However, when they were negative, participants responded differently depending on whether they were reading in Welsh or English – despite the fact the information was exactly the same.
Scientists believe people’s native language is more closely tied to our emotions which means we find it easier to be honest.
Functioning in the second language appeared to protect them against unpalatable truths, and deal with them more strategically, researchers concluded.