What will you do if you notice a mobile phone left unattended and ringing in a shopping mall lobby? Would you answer the call? In case you do, you come to know that the owner of the mobile phone has almost lost it. He then requests you to spare some time and trouble yourself to return it. Would you agree for that? Alternatively, cut-it and keep the tempting new handset in your pocket and walk away?
The “Global Cell-Phone Honesty Test” reveals that almost 68 percent people choose to give it back. Albeit the test does not have a base of scientific methods, it brings out some beguiling natural human instincts.
Reader’s Digest carried out the test simultaneously in select most populated cities of 32 countries around the world. Reader’s Digest, the most widely read magazine of the world, conducted an informal honesty test by leaving 960 mobile phones unattended, at select busiest public spots, in each city.
Every country had local researchers who arranged and conducted this test. They observed the mobile handsets from a distance after leaving it unattended at a place. These mobile handsets were brand-new, mid-priced models with tempting designs. Researchers observed if anyone answered the ringing mobile. Researchers were observing for three possible types of people’s response after ringing the mobile. One may decide to return the phone or keep the phone with himself. He may also decide to make a call on the pre-programmed handset number, the third possibility.
“In every single city where the test was conducted, at minimum almost half of the phones were returned. And despite the temptation that people must have felt to keep the phones, and the fact that the test imposed on everyone’s time, the average return rate was remarkable 68 percent, or about two thirds of the 30 phones we dropped in each city.” said Conrad Kiechel, Editorial Director, International
The editors of the ‘Reader’s Digest’ magazine conceptualized and monitored this test in every participating country. Reader’s Digest did organize a ‘Global Courtesy Test’ last year as well. This year the test was on the same lines. The test is remarkable and spectacular in its approach and findings, as it concludes concurrently at many cities around the world. Reader’s Digest has drawn an exemplary trajectory geographically.
‘Ljubljana’, a small city in Slovenia, with highest percentage of mobile handsets returned, tops the list of cities. This is the smallest of all participating cities with a population of only 267,000. Inhabitants of this picturesque city are generous and very helpful. People returned 29 of 30 mobile handsets during the test.
In Toronto, Canada, citizens returned 28 mobile phones of 30 in total. This metro police stood at second rank of all. Ryan Demchuk, 29, works as an insurance broker in Toronto. He expressed his sense of satisfaction when he returned the mobile.”If you can help somebody out, why not?” said Ryan.
In Stockholm, Sweden, Lotta Mossige, who works as a railway ticket inspector, also gave it back after finding it on a shopping street. She always calls back people who leave their handsets in her train. Seoul, South Korea and Stockholm, Sweden, were at third and forth rank respectively. In Mumbai, India; Manila, Philippines; and New York City, people gave back 24 such mobile phones. At fifth Place, these three cities stand together.
Putting aside the common belief, young ones proved themselves equally honest. “I did the right thing,” said 16-year-old Johnnie Sparrow from New York’s Harlem section. He felt proud over his action when he found a mobile unattended. Muhammad Faizal bin Hassan, a shopping complex employee in Singapore also answered a ringing phone. “My parents taught me that if something is not sure, don’t take it,” says Faizal.
Women were slightly more likely to return phones than were men. It was an opportunity for many parents to teach a lesson of good human behavior to their children. “I am glad that my kids are here to see this. I hope it sets a good example,” said Mohammad Yusuf mahmoud, 33, in Hounslow, west London, when he answered the mobile phone call. His two young daughters were also with him now.
Reason behind this natural human response was an experience of suffering and a feeling of satisfaction towards those who have lost their valuable things that they never found it back. Kristina, 51, from Helsinki expressed her feelings with a sense of satisfaction, “I’ve had cars stolen three times and even the laundry from the cellar was taken”.
Despite all luring, greed, economic pressures and many other excuses people returned 68% (654 numbers of mobiles) mobile phones. Honesty once again proved itself a globally existing human nature phenomenon once again.