The Atlantic website has a recent article about a fascinating study. According to the author, Francesca Gino, she and her husband conducted a series of experiments designed to see what effect varying darkness level shave on dishonest behavior. They placed individuals in rooms with different light amounts and later asked them to self-report on their actions.
“Maybe you would stay true to your moral compass. But, as it turns out, many of our participants did not: in fact, on average, about half of them cheated across conditions.More interestingly, the level of darkness in the room dramatically influenced participants’ likelihood to lie by over reporting their performance: almost 61 percent of the participants in the dim room cheated, while ‘only’ about 24 percent of participants in the well-lit room cheated.”
Are people really more likely to engage in unethical behavior when they believe no one can see their actions?
While I can’t speak to the scientific rigor of Ms. Gino’s ad hoc experiment, there is one situation where anonymity is extremely beneficial: survey responses. One study measured the impact of anonymity on combat soldiers’ post deployment mental health screenings. The results found that mental health reporting was “. . . 2-fold to 4-fold higher on the anonymous survey compared with the routine Post-Deployment Health Assessment.” Anonymity is so important that some universities include it in their best practices.
Only SoGoSurvey guarantees true Anonymity. By removing all electronic identifying information such as email and IP addresses, your respondents are free to be completely candid and honest. And your company or organization benefits when people tell you how they really feel.
Anecdotally, it may be true that people are more likely to be dishonest when they feel physically or psychologically sheltered by darkness. But it’s equally important to remember that — for many honest individuals — darkness is a protective covering allowing them to act ethically without fear of reprisal. Granting your participants the darkness of anonymity ensures they’ll truthfully shed light on issues of great importance to you.