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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the roll-high-or-be-sent-to-siberia dept.

Science 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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let me correct that for you. (4, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | about 3 months ago | (#47505805)

"socialism"

Re:let me correct that for you. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505841)

Why do they even have that word in there? Were there people exposed to the same East German experience at the same time but without the "socialism" which this study used to help differentiate and show that it was the so-called socialism which contributed to their proneness to cheating?

Re:let me correct that for you. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505859)

there was no socialism in east-germany. there was none in east-europe. that was fascism with a tiny bit of communism-appearence thrown in. socialism is found in scandinavia, belgium, netherlands, france, and the former western-germany.

Re:let me correct that for you. (3, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about 3 months ago | (#47505873)

Refusing to acknowledge the icky parts doesn't make them go away.

Re:let me correct that for you. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505981)

Refusing to acknowledge the icky parts of American fascism doesn't make it go away.

Re:let me correct that for you. (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 3 months ago | (#47505983)

That's true.

Re:let me correct that for you. (1, Offtopic)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47506005)

That is not the point. The point is that 1) communism, in its design, has nothing to do with what was happening in East Germany, and 2) even if it had, in the end stage, it wouldn't matter if communist-bred people cheated for money more than others because the communist society would be a post-scarcity one, so this is an artificial "problem" since there would be nothing to cheat for.

Re:let me correct that for you. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506055)

" it wouldn't matter if communist-bred people cheated for money more than others because the communist society would be a post-scarcity one"

These are the kind of mad myths an underground of crazies believe in.

But it's good that you remind us periodically of your existence. People might otherwise think you were a fabrication intended to scare children or something. Well, the underground is present and alive.

Re:let me correct that for you. (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 3 months ago | (#47506099)

Scandinavia is not icky, nor is france or the netherlands. Not sure about belgium :-)

Re:let me correct that for you. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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).

Re:let me correct that for you. (5, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | about 3 months ago | (#47505903)

there was no socialism in east-germany. there was none in east-europe. that was fascism with a tiny bit of communism-appearence thrown in. socialism is found in scandinavia, belgium, netherlands, france, and the former western-germany.

Most Western European countries are mixed economies, mostly capitalist, with some socialism, and a welfare state.

East Germany and the Soviet Union really bought into the idea of Socialism: the state owned everything. Private property was outlawed. You could go to jail for making a profit.

The East Germans were so committed to the idea that the state owned everything that they believed they had a right to build an enormous wall to keep the governments property (people) from escaping to the West.

Re:let me correct that for you. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505909)

communism != socialism. you're an American, aren't you ?

Re:let me correct that for you. (4, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | about 3 months ago | (#47505939)

Communism is State Socialism. It should be wrong to say that it is the only socialism out there, but it is definitely socialism.

I admit that I don't know why they said it was "socialism" vs. "capitalism". Granted, the West had capitalism involved, but there was definitely some form of socialism in Western Europe too.

Perhaps the real difference was an authoritarian vs. a democratic upbringing. In authoritarian states of all stripe, people might be inclined to try and fight or deal with the system the only way they could.... by cheating it.

To tell the truth, I think Communism itself was a flawed system, specifically because it set up the groundwork for revolutionary tyranny based on wishful thinking, followed by Leninism which set the groundwork for state tyranny enshrined in a Party that ruled a state that never quite got around to withering away. The fact that an authoritarian system developed from that is no surprise, but I don't know that such a state is the only possible result of the other forms of socialism.

Re:let me correct that for you. (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#47505979)

Communism is State Socialism. It should be wrong to say that it is the only socialism out there, but it is definitely socialism.

Nonsense. Read your Marx. Communism and Socialism don't even remotely resemble one another. The only reason people get them confused is that Communism, as defined by Marx, was the ideal human goal and has never actually existed.

What you describe as "State Socialism" is what most people just call Socialism... because socialism requires a strong State.

While some countries liked to CALL THEMSELVES communist, they were not. They were anything but. The best any of them ever managed to achieve were bad forms of socialism and fascism.

The reason for that is simple: socialism (the real economic theory of socialism) requires a strong central authority. Whereas communism (genuine communism, according to social and economic theory) has no "authority" at all.

The problem has been that once a relatively few people got all that authority, under a socialist or fascist regime, they then never wanted to give it up. So societies never "evolved" beyond that to true communism. Nor is it likely to ever happen. Marx was a loon.

Re:let me correct that for you. (4, Insightful)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 3 months ago | (#47506067)

The problem has been that once a relatively few people got all that authority, under a socialist or fascist regime, they then never wanted to give it up. So societies never "evolved" beyond that to true communism. Nor is it likely to ever happen. Marx was a loon.

Pure communism is an interesting idea that is unlikely to work with humans in the long run.

It does not follow that "Marx was a loon". Given a society or species that is much more altruistic, willing to contribute to the entire society rather than focusing on personal benefit, the result would be elevation of everybody.

The idea by itself has merit, where all of society is doing all it can to contribute to everyone. But humans are greedy, selfish, lying, power hungry, egoistic creatures. Good idea, just not for humanity.

Re:let me correct that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506085)

The meaning of terms change over time. It looks like you are applying an anachronistic definition. This is wrong.

Re:let me correct that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506179)

Changing definitions is indeed very helpful - bending any argument to suit one's needs is much easier then...

Re:let me correct that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506119)

100% Agree, read Marx

Re:let me correct that for you. (5, Insightful)

stjobe (78285) | about 3 months ago | (#47506053)

Communism is State Socialism. It should be wrong to say that it is the only socialism out there, but it is definitely socialism.

Soviet communism was (corrupted) state capitalism disguised as state socialism.

Russia was truly communist for a few years after the Russian revolution, until the Bolsheviks took over and turned everything on its head and forever corrupted the word "communism". Now, instead of thinking "oh, communal ownership of the means of production so all may be equal", most people think "oh, corrupted state owns everything and represses its people so that a select few can have it unimaginably better than others" - which is so far from (any of) the communistic ideals that it's almost impossible to go any further.

Soviet communism was communistic in name only.

Re:let me correct that for you. (1)

aurb (674003) | about 3 months ago | (#47505955)

Exactly - the government owned everything. People didn't own anything, no matter how hard they worked. It was considered OK to steal from the government, because the government, in a way, stole from the people.

Re:let me correct that for you. (3, Insightful)

rioki (1328185) | about 3 months ago | (#47506033)

That is not fully true. At least in East Germany you owned things. You could own a car and the furniture in your house. You may have hat to wait long to get them, but you bought them from the money you own. In cretin circumstances you could also own a house, but that was rather rare.

Nevertheless the the notion you point out is sort of correct. If you all get the same pay and there is an allocation system based on "need", it is clear that you try to game the system, like work less or "needing" more.

Re:let me correct that for you. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47506023)

The wall was only in Berlin, though (and perhaps similar things in a few other places [wikipedia.org] where the border crossed an urban settlement). The rest of the border was mostly fences with anti-personnel mines [wikipedia.org] and other juicy stuff like that.

Re:let me correct that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506133)

State capitalism is not socialism, and it's not communism. It's state capitalism. Socialism and communism require ownership of everything by the people, not the state.

Re: the idea of Socialism (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506143)

the idea of Socialism: the state owned everything.

That's not the idea of Socialism. The idea of Socialism is that the *workers* own the *means of production*. The state, as so clearly demonstrated by the failed eastern European experiment, was neither identical with, nor even adequately represented the interests of, the workers; and 'everything' is a far greater scope than just 'the means of production'. In other words, the Soviet bloc countries were no more Socialists than the National Socialists were, which is to say, in name only.

Re:let me correct that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506165)

There are some great nations that build walls, some of them subscribe to collectivism, some not.
What I would like to know is how these folks in Germany compare to Muricans. My admittedly biased view is that they are just behind all these evil East Germans.

Re:let me correct that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506043)

that was fascism with a tiny bit of communism-appearence thrown in.

So they called their own society "socialist" and they built a wall called the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart", but you still think they were fascist and not socialist because they couldn't possibly know just what sort of society they were trying to create and you do.

Yeah, sure.

Re:let me correct that for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505907)

Just like how capitalism is defined as having a free market and a happy population with protected rights, so if any country has a free market and people are not happy with protected rights then it's not capitalism by definition.

Is this Harpers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505809)

I'm inculcated to think so.

Angela Merkel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505817)

Hey, Angela Merkel grew up under East German socialism, ne c'est pas?!

Re:Angela Merkel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505885)

That's why she cheats the whole EU.

Money (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 3 months ago | (#47505819)

How much money did the people in each group have, on average, during their youth?

Otherwise they might be just testing whether richer people give a lesser value to a small amount of money than poorer people.

I'm pretty sure the average 20yo european would cheat less to get 8$ than the average south american and more than the average japanese.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505825)

indeed, there are many studies showing just that.

Re:Money (4, Informative)

arglebargle_xiv (2212710) | about 3 months ago | (#47505853)

Otherwise they might be just testing whether richer people give a lesser value to a small amount of money than poorer people.

It's not money, it's access to goods (and pretty much everything else). If you wanted anything in East Germany (or Poland, Hungary, Romania, Russia, ...), you had to take shortcuts. My west German relatives used to visit their east German relatives with the car packed with luxury goods like tins of paint (for their roof), which were unavailable to most people in the east unless you knew how to game the system. All this study seems to be showing is that if you grow up in a society where you need to be able to game the system in order to get anywhere, you end up gaming the system in order to get somewhere.

Re:Money (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47506157)

Money was not really the issue. A nice home, a good education, travel papers to the West (not been restricted only to the East/Soviet Union) was a real goal worth attempting and protecting.
The problem was even if you put in the hard work, stayed loyal to the gov and its meetings, had the skills you might not be able to escape your parents pasts.
ie same skills, age, level of trust to a point but if your parents where pre ww2 wealthy you might not get anywhere out of the East.
ie if you got to work in the West the gov kept your family back and watched you. Any issues and your lost that paperwork.
As things got more relaxed with visits from the West people could get small gifts in. Very strange that this study got pushed onto Slashdot by an AC :)

Re:Money (2)

Axynter (684016) | about 3 months ago | (#47506201)

All this study seems to be showing is that if you grow up in a society where you need to be able to game the system in order to get anywhere, you end up gaming the system in order to get somewhere.

Absolutely right, and ultimately doesn't have much to do with socialism per se, although socialism, as implemented in Eastern Europe, certainly created a climate in which one had to game the system in order to survive. Take the example of Romania today (obviously no longer "socialist"), where the minimum wage is somewhere around 200 euros, and the median wages are not too far off from that figure. The prices there are basically the same as in East Germany, so most of the people need to game the system somehow in order to make ends meet, since the math simply does not work otherwise (200 euros per month minus, say, 100 for rent, and you're left with 100 euros per month for groceries when a bottle of milk is ca. 1 euro, 1kg of chicken breast is about 4 euros, etc [http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Romania] - this, of course, doesn't include, shoes, transportation, etc). This forces pretty much everyone to be corrupt, to some extent, starting from the poorest of the poor and going all the way to the top. Until the wages/prices ratio reaches decent levels, there's always going to be corruption there.

I don't think you can phrase this issue in terms of "ethics" or "morality" - indeed, doing so has certain racist undertones. You can't expect people who grew up in a particular system to just change their worldview once that system is replaced, unless the new system is authoritarian. There's a book, called "Defending the Border", which really brings this issue into perspective; it talks about the effects of suddenly separating tight communities and families by an impenetrable border (the Iron Curtain).

Re:Money (1)

popo (107611) | about 3 months ago | (#47506149)

Exactly right. My thoughts exactly.

If one were to conduct the same study but offer $10,000 instead if $6, I am quite sure the percentage of cheaters would rise to include a significant number of those born in the relatively rich West.

Trying to see thiis article for what it is. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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?)

Re:Trying to see thiis article for what it is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505929)

Let me guess, waking up from that recurrent erotic dream where Stalin is making you a baby?

Re:Trying to see thiis article for what it is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506097)

News flash: Russia isn't the Soviet Union, is no longer communist, and isn't East Germany. The East Germans are unconnected to the shooting down of the plane. The study doesn't seem to have been done in the last week. And it's science. Is your "propaganda" label a form of propaganda in itself, and a defense of a sacred cow? Maybe you should finish that cup before posting anything more. Make it two.

Breaking news (5, Insightful)

egladil (1640419) | about 3 months ago | (#47505833)

People raised in a country were the government spies on its citizens, encourages selling people out, and kidnaps dissenters are more likely to lie for personal gain.

My guess is this is more an effect caused by Stasi, and not the communism/capitalism divide.

Re:Breaking news (4, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about 3 months ago | (#47505879)

.. there's a reason paranoia is a typical stereotype associated with eastern bloc societies. ...and the united states these days. Corporates cannot dominate without a powerful state willing to back them.

Re:Breaking news (1)

eggstasy (458692) | about 3 months ago | (#47505917)

Also, a corrupt leadership sets an example.

Re:Breaking news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505919)

In economic matters, East Germany was a good deal more liberal than other communist states, and unsurprisingly, more successful (relatively speaking!).

Re:Breaking news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505931)

People raised in poor countries, where the rules of a modern capitalistic society are not well established, are more likely to lie for personal gain.

FTFY

Re:Breaking news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505953)

People raised in a country were the government spies on its citizens, encourages selling people out, and kidnaps dissenters are more likely to lie for personal gain. My guess is this is more an effect caused by Stasi, and not the communism/capitalism divide.

Having personally experienced one of these Stasi victims (whose role was, ironically, a HR officer) I can certainly say it was one of the most unpleasant experiences of bullying I've encountered. Fortunately, I was able to demolish this person when they tried to fake my work attendance records and then signed the document handed to me. When it didn't match my diary entries I became curious and then (as I was the administrator of the system) pulled a report that exposed the fraud, thus exposing that they had been doing it to other people as well - including the directors of the company who immediately recognized it for what it was.

Re:Breaking news (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47506059)

Communism causes Stasi. It can hardly co-exist with other political ideologies! It seeks to eradicate them and institute a one-party state. One can hardly do something like this when right-wingers are allowed free speech right alongside the good people. Thus, the state needs to defend itself - for everyone's own good, of course.

"You are dictatorial." My dear sirs, you are right, that is just what we are. All the experience the Chinese people have accumulated through several decades teaches us to enforce the people's democratic dictatorship, that is, to deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right.
-- Mao Zedong

They are strange creatures, these Bolsheviks. They talk of freedom and the reconciliation of the peoples of the world, of peace and unity, and withal they are said to be the most cruel tyrants history has ever known. They are simply exterminating the bourgeoisie, and their arguments are machine-guns and the gallows. My talk to-day with Joffe has shown me that these people are not honest, and in falsity surpass all that cunning diplomacy has been accused of, for to oppress decent citizens in this fashion and then talk at the same time of the universal blessing of freedom - it is sheer lying.
-- Count Ottokar Czernin, Former Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, "In the World War" (1920)

"In comparison to conditions imposed by U.S. tyranny and violence, East Europe under Russian rule was practically a paradise."
-- Noam Chomsky

Re:Breaking news (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 3 months ago | (#47506135)

Thus, the state needs to defend itself - for everyone's own good, of course.

That sounds like the standard excuse for building a surveillance state - completly independent of what the actual political system is calling itself. And we're currently seeing it in far too many "democratic" states.

Re:Breaking news (4, Insightful)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 months ago | (#47506199)

Communism causes Stasi.

So does capitalism cause House Committee on Un-American Activities?

And what's the difference between the two anyway?

Re:Breaking news (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 3 months ago | (#47506069)

People raised in a country were the government spies on its citizens, encourages selling people out, and kidnaps dissenters are more likely to lie for personal gain.

Interesting assertion. How about some evidence to support it? Obscuring disagreement with the government to avoid punishment is different from cheating for gain.

My guess is this is more an effect caused by Stasi, and not the communism/capitalism divide.

As far as I know, every communist country had oppressive secret police that engaged in many forms of repression. It is a practical necessity of the system. Not so capitalism, so if you want to attribute the cheating to the Stasi and repression it is related to the communist / capitalist divide.

Re:Breaking news (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506175)

As far as I know, every communist country had oppressive secret police that engaged in many forms of repression. It is a practical necessity of the system. Not so capitalism, so if you want to attribute the cheating to the Stasi and repression it is related to the communist / capitalist divide.

So you are saying that we don't need NSA? Good, let's get rid of them.

On a note more related to the article I think it is all bullshit.
The result has nothing to do with capitalism/communism but rather to do with corruption. A corrupt government creates an environment were the people also has to be corrupt. When the government stops working for the good of the people the people will stop working for the good of the nation.
When the government thinks of the people as an enemy then the government becomes the enemy of the people, regardless of if is a communist or capitalist nation.
Stalins paranoia did more to harm Soviet than communism ever could.

Re:Breaking news (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 3 months ago | (#47506117)

People raised in a country were the government spies on its citizens, encourages selling people out, and kidnaps dissenters are more likely to lie for personal gain..

Wow. You're broadening the definition enough to make it intresting to have people from several other countries tested, too....

inaccurate (1, Interesting)

figjam88au (809986) | about 3 months ago | (#47505835)

real socialists don't have any need or opportunity to "cheat", so they haven't developed the ability to resist cheating.

Re:inaccurate (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 3 months ago | (#47505883)

ah.. no true scotsman would...

Re:inaccurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506211)

While it is fun to invoke the true scotsman fallacy it can just as easily be used against capitalism.
If I claim that capitalism leads to a situation where monopolies owns the government and that the benefits of a capitalism are theoretical and doesn't reach the people your defense will most likely be a true scotsman fallacy in itself.

Essentially you are trying to make an argument from fallacy [wikipedia.org] which is a fallacy in itself.
Just because figjam88au didn't provide a reasonable argument doesn't mean that he is wrong.

Seriously? (5, Insightful)

tgv (254536) | about 3 months ago | (#47505837)

Researcher ask two groups, that they know to be different beforehand, a question, and then are surprised to get different answers? Really? If it had gone the other way around, they would have had simply reversed the explanation. And this study has so many potential confounds, like poverty, or even geological distribution, that it's hard to describe the level of ignorance of researchers that contribute this effect in their abstract to "exposure to socialism". Last week there was something about children from religious groups vs. children from non-religious groups, and the message that gets picked up is: religious children are more superstitious, and this week it is: socialism makes people dishonest, etc., while in reality no such conclusion can be drawn. Seriously? F* this kind of research.

Correlation is not causation (4, Informative)

gyepi (891047) | about 3 months ago | (#47505847)

From TFA:

The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example.

Although the historically observed relative poverty may indeed be causally linked to choice of an economic-political system, even that would not be sufficient to appropriately identify the economic-political system as the cause of the alleged differences in moral aptitudes.

Re:Correlation is not causation (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47506077)

It doesn't matter what the study says - give it two days to pass through the blogosphere and some right-wing news sites, and you'll see this presented as the proof that all liberals are lying scum.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506177)

Exactly! And to point to one single factor in a complex social situation as being THE determining factor, that requires some stretch of the imagination. Or a deep desire for link-bait titles.

This is more about reason and habits than morality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505851)

Maybe living in a functioning economic system just rewards playing by the rules. And, in any not-really-functioning system, not just socialism, you have to resort to cheating because the rules are objectively stupid. This would be more like a habit formed by rational behaviour then, and less about bad morality. Unless you think that these two are the same thing.

they should do an investigation about torture... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505861)

and other double standards behaviour.

Secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505863)

60% of the East German population was under scrutiny of the Stasi.
And everyone could be an agent. Even the smallest secrets could get you in trouble.
And since everyone was already living a secret life, why not add a few lies here and there.
"Everyone exposed to state regulated spying" would be a better phrase.
Political view has very little to do with it
Has anyone mentioned NSA or GCHQ yet (oh wait... this is the bait of the topic....). /I'll get me coat

the economist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505875)

right.
I call bullshit. Many commentaters have pointed out the flaws in the methodology, but let's just start with the source.

personal experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505877)

I grew up in socialism in eastern europe and I support this result fully. Even now after many years in the west I tend to cheat by freeriding and downloading copyrighted material illegally. I am not a pathological case, I do these seldom, but my inner barrier is not the same as that of my neighbours and colleagues who grew up under capitalism. Support by example in the opposite direction is the moral of my grandparents who happened to grow up under capitalism but most of their life they spent under socialism. All of them never cheated by freeriding in their lives. Combined with the previous observation makes a strong support that this is not just degradation of moral with time.

Hello, obvious flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505887)

I'm pretty sure there were a lot of differences between East and West Germany other than the form of government.

Didn't bother to read TFA. Is it really as flame-baity as the summary?

How do you even quantify "socialism" and "capitalism" without having the study devolve into total bullshit?

suspect results. (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 3 months ago | (#47505905)

hate to say it, but correlation does not equal causation. didn't east Germany also have significantly lower economic prosperity and hence people grew up with the need to take every advantage they could get. Even then it is still just correlation but I would be willing to bet economic conditions have more to do with it than political system/philosophy.

It's called the "Sovok" or old soviet mentality. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505911)

It's a common thing in virtually all places where people are oppressed. When the system exists to keep the people down, any kind of covert damage people can do to the system is considered a virtue. Given a few generations of this, and morals can be completely up-ended. Witness the entire Ukraine and Russia conflict. Ukraine as a culture is attempting to break out of that old form of thought, while Russia is still entrapped in the old corrupt soviet mind. The social system is set up in a way that they naturally try to drag everyone around them down into it as well, turning the region into a continent sized crab bucket. Having met people with that mentality, it's obvious it's an adaptation to a completely different reality and way of life, but it is also maladaptive to what we would consider a normal and healthy way of living.

Re:It's called the "Sovok" or old soviet mentality (4, Insightful)

Tailhook (98486) | about 3 months ago | (#47506163)

I believe our greatest strength in the West has been the relative lack of corruption. I know that claim is like nails on a chalkboard to the common malcontent millennial armed with dozens of mod points around here, trained from birth to rail at every iniquity, but they are naive; the level of corruption that had to exist to reconcile the delta between the state and reality in Soviet bloc nations is several times greater than anything that has existed in the West.

Whole sciences had to be practiced in secret while the practitioners professed absolute allegiance to anti-science dogma such as Lysenkoism. A completely corrupt labor `bonus' system evolved to compensate valuable (not to be confused with `honest') employees despite government policy; something we see emerging today in our own corrupt government workforce. Occasionally the corruption would grow large enough to bubble to the surface and become embarrassing news even in a place that had absolute control over the news; the `Ryazan Miracle' was a case of this. Chernobyl was a direct result of corruption that provided bonuses and awards to officials throughout the system.

When you have to commit a crime by shopping the `black' market just to put staples in the fridge you are engendering a mentality. Sovok, as you say. An indifference to the value of laws.

Between the `drug war,' our welfare state, piratic corporate governance and ever greater abuse of power by our government, we are rapidly catching up.

So those bankers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505921)

... came from East Germany. No wonder it all crashed in 2008.

It's democracy, stupid. (5, Insightful)

abbamouse (469716) | about 3 months ago | (#47505937)

Sigh. We've known for a long time that in autocratic regimes of any type, levels of interpersonal trust are lowered. After all, your neighbor might be an informer, and the state itself is a liar and propagandist. Similarly, low levels of social trust correlate with all sorts of antisocial behavior, from cheating and intolerance to distrust of democracy itself. So all this experiment really proves is something we already know: living a long time under an oppressive regime generates distrust which legitimizes cheating and so forth. Capitalism and "socialism" have little to do with it.

Rough times, not socialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505949)

This study is completely bogus.

Just look at the countries where population show "moral relaxation": http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results/

What do Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan and North Korea have in common? Communist government? Nope, that people are oppressed, and in general, the conditions of living are bad.

Isn't it obvious? When life is though, people resort to cheating.

Duh.

Re:Rough times, not socialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505999)

What do Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan and North Korea have in common? Communist government? Nope, that people are oppressed, and in general, the conditions of living are bad.

Tribalism isn't so different from communism. Generally the tribe owns everything, collectively.

Inevitably, though, decisions concerning tribal property have to be made and that often necessitates a single, powerful, decision-maker.

In Somalia, it's a warlord. In North Korea, it's a bit like a hereditary monarchy. In the Soviet Union, it was the elected head of the party.

Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505961)

The difference between a socialist and a capitalist is that the socialist cheats, while the capitalist bribes to bend the rules.

Re:Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506039)

Under a socialist system "cheating" is just an accepted sharing of resources, under capitalism "bribes" are accepted market forces.

Please explain (0, Troll)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about 3 months ago | (#47505967)

Please explain Enron, Lehmann Brothers, Bernie Maddoff and Fox.

Re:Please explain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506021)

Corporations get much, Much, MUCH more welfare than citizens. It makes perfect sense if you look at it that way.

Re:Please explain (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 months ago | (#47506217)

Of course. A corporation is a legal "person" in the US, and they're persons with much greater expenses than (for example) a disabled single mother, so of course they need more welfare. Only a commie would suggest otherwise!

Dubious Sample Size (2)

basecastula (2556196) | about 3 months ago | (#47505975)

How can one make any conclusion with a sample size that small?

Re:Dubious Sample Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506189)

I can make any conclusions you want Sir, if they are very outrageous the fee will double though.

The Better Angels of Our Nature ... (2)

giorgist (1208992) | about 3 months ago | (#47505989)

The latest book by Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined sets out the mechanisms and the reasons why this is the case. If you want the short answer ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory

Squalor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505991)

Living with meager means and in a poor environment probably does more to morality than the way the country is run.

Corruption? Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47505993)

Thankfully there is no corruption in capitalism. And people tend to he honest and not cheat.
We are saved!

Causality went out of window! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506009)

This is how the study stands from a causality point of view:

Let's say there is a great plague in Europe. During the years of the plague two people play chess. The first always loses.
After 2-3 years the guy manages to beat his opponent.
The result?
The plague makes you better chess player!

Berlin isn't Germany! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506017)

Picking people from Berlin isn't exactly going to give you an accurate view of it.
Western Berlin was a lot different from the rest of Germany, there is a good bit of wariness/dislike between the average person from Berlin and those from south Germany, and certainly Bavaria is almost a category of its own, especially if you exclude Munich.

Classic game theory ? (1)

Jesrad (716567) | about 3 months ago | (#47506037)

I don't think there is much to see here.

Soviet communism, and marxist communism in general, operate (wrongly) under assumptions of the economy being a zero-sum game, so it's not really a surprise it has an effect on the ethics of its 'players'. Quoting straight from the Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism:

whatever the capitalists take from the workers in the form of open or concealed profits, the workers lose completely. And this is the very definition of a zero-sum situation.

In a zero-sum game people tend to resort to unethical strategies more often, as in the classic Prisoner's dilemma [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Classic game theory ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506061)

Are you sure of that? I mean, if marxist communism operates under the assumption of economy being a zero-sum game, why does it espouse automation? Surely we can't have machines stealing jobs from workers. There must be *some* non-zero-sum assumption in any economy, unless you're referring to zero-sum along a single dimension.

Re:Classic game theory ? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47506107)

AC if you actually saw an East German factory or product you would note the lack of 'automation'. A few areas that needed tech eg computer design and lens work got the top quality hardware support. The rest of East Germany was left to its own 1950's devices. The East German work force was rather dynamic post WW2 as the people who did not escape kept tiny workshops and firms at first. They produced what they has always made for the gov but where left alone as to how. Later the East German gov reached in and closed all the small brands and firms, pulling them together as vast regional efforts (1970's on). All the ability to over or under produce was lost as well as any advancement in the way things where produced. People got jobs, went to work, did them, went to political meetings and then went home. That was it. There was not much "automation" as that would cost real cash, need cash for spare parts and replace workers who needed jobs for life.
East Germany did not have the spare cash to just waste on automation. They would have had to take out huge loans, import the tech, import the skills, keep it running and then export the results to pay the huge loans back in a real currency. The exception was Western brands invited in to use the workers in the East to make products for export and then share the extra profits with East Germany gov. But that kind of spoils the "Communism" propaganda spin AC. A lot of cash was made like that but it shows a nice cash flow interconnect between East and West that does not fit into the Wall and free West propaganda.

Re:Classic game theory ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506207)

Actually, capitalism in the western world is a negative sum game right now. The government prints money, then gives it to the banks who lend it out, releasing it into the economy at 3-30% interest. When the banker gets paid back, it must be the original principle amount, plus interest so the loan doesn't actually put money into the economy in the long term, it takes money out. If all the debts were called in simultaneously, there wouldn't be enough money circulating in the economy to pay them.

What do we do, to keep the ponzi scheme afloat. We just keep on printing more money. More and more money keeps on floating off to the financiers, who take the interest and keep it, while the government keeps on cranking out more notes for them loan. The bankers share of the pie gets bigger and bigger and they know their buddies in the Federal Reserve will never call them on the loans they received. Us schmoes with our mortgages are under iron clad obligations to pay down to the last penny.

Overall total indebtedness grows from year to year. We'll never be able to pay it back, because the monetary system makes it physically impossible.

Honesty... (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 3 months ago | (#47506041)

Yes I can see what they mean, the only measure of honesty is frequency of thieving and cheating, not magnitude. Under communism everybody cheats all of the time but most people who do the bulk of the thieving are petty thieves whereas under capitalism you have an elite made up of corporate executives, elected representatives and bankers that has been given a license by society to handle most of the thieving and cheating. Capitalists steal less often but when theft happens they rob everybody else blind. Epiphany! I'm beginning to see the mortgage crisis in a whole new shining light of capitalist honesty and moral superiority over communism.... uughhhhhh..... what a bunch of bullshit. Try as I might I have always failed to see how capitalism is any less rotten than communism and that is not likely to change. The only reason I prefer capitalism is that it is somewhat less oppressive but I don't think of it as being in any way vastly morally superior to communism although I realize that many capitalist fanboys are terribly offended by this point of view.

Socialism or dictatorship? (1)

Punto (100573) | about 3 months ago | (#47506057)

Are they sure the cause was socialism and not the oppressive dictatorship they lived under? It's not like their socialist government was democratically elected, maybe that's influenced them more?

Capitalists societies cheat even more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506065)

Except when they do it, they call it "free markets" and "fiduciary responsibility to share holders" thus it isn't considered cheating but the societal norm. Sociopathic anti-social behavior is idolized in capitalism. When the government tries to enact laws to prevent capitalists from cheating others, they call it socialism.

Libertarians only want enough government to protect themselves from the people they cheat and they are more than willing to cheat each other. Government has no role to legislate morality, except when it happens to coincide with a Libertarian's personal beliefs and interests then they are all for it. When two libertarians cheat each other and each want the government to intervene on their behalf, get out the popcorn and enjoy the show.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506081)

What utter and complete bullshit. Of course it's from The Economist. These results likely have nothing at all to do with capitalism vs. socialism and more to do with "living in a modern free western society" vs. "living in an oppressive dictatorship under the watchful eye of the Stazi." It sounds far reasonable to me that East Germans would develop more of a "fuck it" attitude to life due to the oppressive regime they lived under. This has nothing at all to do "socialism" or "communism" or "capitalism." It has more to do with "autocratic dictatorship" vs. "social democracy."

Forget E vs W Germany. (1)

wheeda (520016) | about 3 months ago | (#47506087)

Check out the difference between Republican and Democrat convictions for fraud or similar problems by politicians. This controls for many more variables than a comparison between E and W Germany, but gets you a similar outcome in terms of a correlation between believing in socialism and being willing to cheat to get what you think is right.

Correlation isn't causation, but it is at least a better study.

Marx' definition is anachronistic and irrelevant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506109)

I see a lot of people here declaring that there is some kind of "real" socialism completely different from how people use the term today.

The problem with this is that the meaning of terms change through time by how they are used. If you say that a term has an "actual" definition written a century ago which is different from its usage today, then you are wrong - language and definitions do not work that way.

Wrong Control Variable? (4, Insightful)

balajeerc (1461659) | about 3 months ago | (#47506115)

I wonder if socialism was the wrong control variable to use in this study. I have a hunch that any people who were brought up in a society with extremely limited resources would be more prone to cheat to get ahead than where resources where more bountiful. I am a citizen of a third world country myself (India) and I find that among my compatriots, a few specific states that are highly underdeveloped seem to have higher crime rates on an average than those states that are relatively better off. What's more, emigrants from these states seem to suffer disproportionately high rates of incarceration even in other states. If you look at it in terms of poverty, the fact that people who have endured grinding poverty are more inclined to jostle to get ahead is hardly surprising.

The ENRON socialists. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506131)

Please, lets be real, you lie according to the likelihood of being caught and severity of punishment. Look at Goldman Sachs, Enron, and any of the Big 5, billions of dollars for those at the top, guarneteed to have fall guys to protect them, compared to all the East German socialist liars.

It's not socialism, that's just corelated (3, Insightful)

yacc143 (975862) | about 3 months ago | (#47506139)

It's a simple case of living in system where you need to cheat (be creative, "organize", ...) to fulfill basic requirements.

That means that people who have lived through this deprivation, act funny to people in more normal econimies:

1.) So you need to sacks of cement. Typical response of a Western guy, "okay, let's go buy 2 sacks of cement, and what exact kind do we need?". Somebody tha has lived in the Eastern block might start plotting a "plan" to get his hands at two sacks of cement. That might involve all kinds of criminal or semi-criminal behaviour, be it stealing, defrauding, ... => one of the reason why many building efforts of the communist were not as well built as planned, quite a bit of material disappeared.

2.) Values and perceptions are also shifted. Happened to our family. Our car was stolen in a former eastern country. Very irritating experience, one has to organize how to get home, fill out a ton of irritating insurance forms, and one might wait a couple of weeks for a new car. Our local acquaintances took it as if the theft was "the end of the world" => cars at that time were viewed quite different there.

In my experience, it took at least a decade of "freedom" before the worst of there effects were gone (e.g. I need X => let's see what shops sell X), and multiple decades before it all faded kind of in the background.

Germany is a special case too, because it was a split country (so many things that are not commonly visible are more visible), plus Eastern Germany was one of the economic powerhouses of the Eastern block, so normal people could avoid the deprivation economy quite a bit longer/had to endure it way shorter.

But still, the point stays, if the only way to feed your kids is stealing, most people will start stealing. And if the situation where this is necessary keeps on going for decades, certain habits and values form that cannot be undone quickly.

Commence distortion. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47506147)

Run this through some biased right-wing news sites or blogs. You know how it'll turn out. I give it two days before we start seeing "Scientists show liberals more prone to lying" or "Science shows a free market makes people honest." Give it a week and someone will find a way to tie it into 'judeo-christian values' too.

No surprises here (2)

ladislavb (551945) | about 3 months ago | (#47506151)

I came to the same conclusion long before there was a "scientific" research on the subject (take it from somebody who grew up in Eastern Europe!). Yes, we are cheats - and that's a fact. We have been bombarded with so much lies during the long communist years (the kind that everybody knew were lies) and in the end everybody excepted lies as a fact of life. And once the system changed, our thinking did not. We were still lying to each other and cheating each other. Even today, some 25 years since the fall of communism, I am much happier doing business with western Europeans than with the old communist block. It's said, but that's how things are. It will take a few generations before things change, I think...

Re:No surprises here (1)

ladislavb (551945) | about 3 months ago | (#47506173)

Sorry, I meant "accepted" instead of excepted and "sad" instead of said. I must be drunk...

Quite True (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47506195)

One thing is that the folk is quite cunning in a bad way.

We had a joke in socialism which was called 7 wonders of socialism. I apologize for a quick translation which is inaccurate and probably misses the pun, but:

*1. Everyone has a job.
*2. Although everyone has a job, no one does anything (works).
*3. Altough no one works, the production plan is fullfilled by 100 %.
*4. Although the plan is fullfilled by 100%, there is nothing (nothing done).
*5. Although there is nothing, everyone has everything.
*6. Although everyone has everything, everyone steals.
*7. Although everyone steals, nothing is missing.

We invented company tunelling, go figure.

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