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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More 619 619

An anonymous reader writes The Economist reports, "'UNDER capitalism', ran the old Soviet-era joke, 'man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.' In fact new research suggests that the Soviet system inspired not just sarcasm but cheating too: in East Germany, at least, communism appears to have inculcated moral laxity. Lars Hornuf of the University of Munich and Dan Ariely, Ximena García-Rada and Heather Mann of Duke University ran an experiment last year to test Germans' willingness to lie for personal gain. Some 250 Berliners were randomly selected to take part in a game where they could win up to €6 ($8). ... The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers ... when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one."
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:17AM (#47505823)

    I'm just on my morning coffee. Isn't it a bit early in the morning for propaganda? (Or does anyone here think we would be reading this if that plane hadn't gone down?)

  • inaccurate (Score:1, Interesting)

    by figjam88au (809986) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:20AM (#47505835)
    real socialists don't have any need or opportunity to "cheat", so they haven't developed the ability to resist cheating.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @04:50AM (#47506111)

    East Germany was a form of totalitarian socialism, but the totalitarian aspect was far more prominent. The socialist part was very similar to the socialist part of West Germany and much of Western Europe at the time (welfare state, government calling itself socialist, state ownership of industry).
    I'm guessing if you did the same study of people growing up in the capitalist totalitarian regimes (ie those military dictatorships backed by the US) you would see a similar story - its totalitarianism, the systematic undermining of trust in others by the Stasi/Secret police (are we seeing this now with the NSA/GCHQ/policing etc?)

    If you looked at libertarian socialist societies them you'd likely find they are less likely to cheat thanks to a high degree of social trust.

    Also, in a capitalist society, you'll find that the rich are more likely to cheat. That suggests to me that to get capitalism encourages cheating as a means to get ahead - hardly a ringing endorsement (and helping put to be the myth of meritocracy).

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @09:02AM (#47507023) Journal
    Post-scarcity isn't possible yet. If it were, he'd be right.
  • Ethic superiority (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @09:23AM (#47507151)

    "when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one."

    This has me infuriated.
    I am a former East German and lived in a very pro-state family. That also meant, that my family was under heavy surveillance, because they carried some responsibility. (We did not know that back then and were stupid enough to believe, we weren't, because most of the family believed in the system). I say that to illustrate, that my family truly believed in the state.
    That said... even though they believed in the state, you had to get creative to get, what you need - as other people mentioned in this thread.

    The story i am thinking about, is the moment, when the wall came down. I saw in my family and the families of friends, how advertising was religiously believed. Today we laugh about the Nigerian Prince Spam-Mail or the "Congratulations, you are the 1000000th Visitor to our page" - but back then, many people believed the mail-order and sailsperson-versions of these scams. They had not been exposed to aggressive advertising - a form of cheating. You might see this as trivial... for years I saw my grandma fillling out every stupid order - she was bombarded by telemarketing and she was not a stupid woman. Suddenly, it was not the state anymore, who you had to be afraid of (if you did not agree) - it were your fellow human beings. From a citizen, you were transformed into a customer.

    That said - i personally am SO GLAD to live in today's germany. And the greif was unbelieavable, when everything came to light, that happened in Eastern Germany. It broke many people in my family, who truly believed in the idea.
    To assign capitalism ethical superiority based on this experiment and the assumption, that cheating on money is a valiable source to do that... is wrong and funnily capitalist ; )

  • by Perl-Pusher (555592) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:26AM (#47508039)
    If you want a social state then you can't have high immigration and a porous border. A social state works when most citizens are productive. It breaks down when you have more parasites than producers. If you limit immigration then you can absorb the losses and eventually reach a relatively stable economy. But if you allow unfettered immigration, the whole thing begins to collapse and your prison population swells. All of this below comes from wikipedia: A "new anti-immigrant" movement has become apparent in some European countries, especially the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Switzerland, during the early 21st century. The issue of immigrant crime plays an important role in the political debate in these countries. Denmark According to the figures from Danmarks Statistik, crime rate among refugees and their descendants is 73% higher than for the male population average, even when taking into account their socioeconomic background. A report from Teori- og Metodecentret from 2006 found that seven out of ten young people placed on the secured youth institutions in Denmark are immigrants (with 40 percent of them being refugees) Finland According to official statistics, 21.0% of rapes have been committed by foreigners in Finland.[8] Foreigners comprise 2.2% of the population.[8] In contrast, the rape support helpline Tukinainen reports that 6% of all callers and 11% of 10–20-year-old callers say that the rapist was a foreigner.[9] Additionally, Finnish rapists are more likely to be known personally by the victim, increasing the threshold to report. Furthermore, there are great asymmetries between nationalities of rapists.[10] In Switzerland, 69.7% of prison population had no Swiss citizenship, compared to 22.1% of total resident population (as of 2008). The figure of arrests by residence status is not usually made public. In 1997, when there were for the first time more foreigners than Swiss among the convicts under criminal law (out of a fraction of 20.6% of the total population at the time), a special report was compiled by the Federal Department of Justice and Police (published in 2001) which for the year 1998 found an arrest rate per 1000 adult population of 2.3 for Swiss citizens, 4.2 for legally resident aliens and 32 for asylum seekers. 21% of arrests made concerned individuals with no residence status, who were thus either sans papiers or "crime tourists" without any permanent residence in Switzerland.
  • by mi (197448) <> on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:06PM (#47508357) Homepage Journal

    How about automating virtually all production, as is rapidly beginning to happen?

    It is beginning to happen, you'd observe, in Capitalist countries. Socialism, which was, officially, the first step towards that post-scarcity nirvana of Communism, would never have been able to achieve it.

    And if you don't come up with some way for the other 99 men to earn a living you're going to have some serious social problems.

    That same Capitalism, where everybody is not just allowed, but encouraged to do whatever other people are willing to pay for, will solve that problem. Whether it is creating entertainment, or growing healthier foods, or designing fancier gadgets — as long as people are allowed to profit from their ideas (rather than be told "You didn't build that!"), we are fine.

    Spread the remaining jobs across 4-10 times as many people and everyone on the planet has the option of living a life of leisure where no-one has to work more than a few hours a week to provide for everyone, freeing everyone to focus their energy on art, philosophy, family, or even just recreation.

    Unless some tyrant somewhere manages to drum-up some old butt-hurts of some reasonably powerful nation to divert those riches to war... Starting by invading his small neighbors and annexing provinces, for example...

Money is the root of all evil, and man needs roots.