Home > Behavioural Economics > Banking culture and cheating.

Banking culture and cheating.

December 14, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

FX RoomSince 2008 the financial sector has been the target for a lot of criticism especially when you think the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the bailing out of banks and the recent manipulation of interest rates and currency rates. The Journal entitled Nature had an interesting piece of research on the banking culture and how it primes people to cheat

Individual bankers behave honestly — except when they think about their jobs.

A study of investment managers and traders at a major international bank suggests that the financial industry’s culture encourages dishonest behaviour, but that the individuals themselves are not inherently dishonest.

In the latest study, published online by Nature magazine, researchers enlisted the help of 128 employees from a large international bank. At the start of the tests, half the participants were quizzed about their jobs and their company, to prompt them to think of their identity as bank employees. The other half answered questions about their hobbies.

The participants were then asked to toss a coin ten times, unwatched by the researchers, and to report the outcome. They could earn money if they reported flipping more heads than tails — and up to US$200 if they reported flipping all heads or all trails.

The first group reported flipping heads 58.2% of the time — significantly higher than would be expected by chance alone. The control group reported tossing 51.6% heads.

The team tried to replicate the pattern in other groups of people — for example, priming students to think about banking. But they did not see the same effect on the participants’ honesty levels. The results show that this banking-related priming effect seems to be specific to people who work as bank employees, suggesting that the culture of the banking sector is to blame.

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