Dishonesty is not rational in the sense that you cannot control dishonesty by increasing the chances of getting caught or its penalties. Those remedies, which are the basis for much of our regulatory and enforcement policy do not control dishonesty. In the real world, according to this book, we all cheat a little, but not so much that it causes us to comprise our self-image or integrity. That is the principle finding of Dan Ariely's new book The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty. Overall this book represents a continuation of Ariely's other books. The book is an engaging, story oriented, insightful book that clearly illustrates how to evaluate dishonesty and all of its different permutations.
This book is good, but frankly it is not as good as Ariely's prior books. Predictably Irrational broke new ground in terms of the understanding behavioral economics. This book builds on that understanding. It repeats some of the same points and remains focused on the issue of dishonesty in all its forms. Fans of Ariely's books will enjoy this extension of his published body of knowledge. For people who are new to Ariely and behavioral economics I would strongly recommend starting with Predictably Irrational.
Ariely shares the studies, their design and evidence to support the conclusions around dishonesty. This makes the ideas and conclusions convincing and clear, as you understand their source.
Ariely tells stories that help build the context around the studies and their findings. This not only makes for an entertaining and engaging read, but also an informative one.
The book is comprehensive looking at the issues of dishonest in different situations, contexts and settings.
The book repeats its central finding time after time and situation after situation. This gives you the indicator that the subject matter would be better represented as an article rather than trying to stretch it out to a book.
Some of the arguments and information presented in the book have been discussed in other books, including Ariely's prior books. Chapter 4 on why we blow it when we are tired is material that is also covered in Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow. This is not surprising given the plethora of behavioral books, but it detracts from this book.
The book follows the same format of Ariely's other books. While this presents a clear and compelling book, it also leads to the impression that if you have read one Ariely book you have pretty much read every Ariely book.
Overall this book is endorsed but not strongly recommended for the challenges mentioned above. Fans or Ariely's book, like me, will enjoy reading it, but this is not the place to start for people new to Ariely or the subject of behavioral economics.