The inspiration behind the breathtaking designs of the City of David jewelry collections is what makes these pieces so unique. Based on artifacts found in ancient Jerusalem, they bear the story of the most important city in the world and its captivating history. This is why people from all over the world seek to take a piece of ancient Jerusalem home with them. But aside from their beauty, studies have shown that this type of meaningful jewelry could have additional, unexpected benefits. Professor Dan Ariely explains why.
Why are white collar offenses considered less severe than crimes such as theft and break-in? Why is it that people cheat and cause colossal economic damage, yet still view themselves as honest people?
These questions intrigued Professor Dan Ariely, a professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He observed the large gap between the financial damage caused by theft and robbery – about 16 billion dollars in 2004, and the adverse affects of theft at the workplace, fictitious additions on reports to insurance companies and other instances of “white lies”, estimated at over 600 billion dollars that same year!
To answer this question, Professor Ariely and a few of his colleagues decided to conduct an experiment to show the extent that people can cheat and still see themselves as honest people. The results will surprise you too.
As described in his bestselling book, Predictably Irrational, Professor Ariely describes a series of experiments during which students at three leading American universities were given an exam. Some of the students were asked to give their test papers to the lecturers to be checked, while others were asked to check their test papers independently. Of the students asked to check their own papers, some were given access to a paper with the answers before they submitted it, some were given money by the lecturer for their correct answers and some took the money for their correct answers on their own from a jar that was placed in the classroom. The conclusion of the experiment was captivating: most of the participants cheated, but only cheated a little bit. Even when the chances of being caught were small or nonexistent, the rate of cheating did not increase significantly.
One of the explanations of the phenomenon is that we usually monitor our actions is based on large-scale offenses. Small offenses that we do not view as causing significant damage aren’t perceived as cheating at all; in these cases, people tend to tell white lies and still believe they are innocent. However, the cumulative damage that is in fact caused is enormous.
In light of these results, the researchers asked themselves whether it is possible to prevent people from even cheating slightly. They conducted an additional series of identical experiments with one variation. Some of the students were asked to think about the Ten Commandments or read a declaration of a commitment to honesty and integrity during the ten minutes prior to the exam. In this case as well, the results were interesting. The students who were asked to think about the Ten Commandments or read the declaration about honesty did not cheat at all, similar to the control group who were not given any opportunity to cheat. In contrast, the students who were asked to peruse a random list (for example, of ten book titles) before the exam cheated at exactly the same rate as in the first experiment.
The conclusion that arose from these experiments is that it is sufficient for people to just think about being honest in order to cause them to stop cheating, but this must be done in close proximity to the moment of temptation.
These experiments have a far-reaching impact on our daily lives. We were always told that in order to improve our behavior, we should distance ourselves from people who are a negative influence and surround ourselves with good people. But what about our environment itself? How can the items around us influence our decisions? Can wearing a piece of jewelry with “clean and honest” characteristics also have a positive influence on us?
So next time you wear jewelry from the City of David jewelry collection, remember that aside from the beautiful design, there’s a pretty good chance that the jewelry itself, inspired by artifacts from the past, will encourage you to make better decisions, even if you don’t consciously notice it.