Honest Tea's 'Honesty Experiment' Tests People's Ethics

If you could walk off with a free iced tea, would you?
Honest Tea Ethics Test

Photo Modified: Flickr/AGirlWithTea

Would you honestly pay $1 for this Honest Tea?

Say you came across a stand chock-full of iced tea, marked for $1 — but there was no cashier, just a simple money box. Would you take the tea and head for the road, or would you give up a dollar?

That's what Honest Tea is wondering: The "Honesty Experiment" is set up to test whether people will pay up when no one's watching, or if they'll take the tea and run, reports the Las Vegas Sun. The experiment, in its third year, will be set up in 50 locations in 30 cities in the next week.

But yes, someone is watching you: employees from the Bethesda-based company watch the booths from a hidden location. Said Ryan Vandegriendt, a marketing manager with Honest Tea, to the Sun, "You watch people, they look around to see what’s going on. They get that guilty conscious and they end up just paying for it." 

Why the honesty tag? Well, the name "Honest Tea" might have something to do with it. The company preaches honesty in its mission statement: "Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, truly healthy, organic beverages. We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our products, with sustainability and great taste for all."

From past results, the national average of people who did the honest thing and paid up sits at about 88 percent. The company will track results all week and release the latest figures from the experiment next week. 

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(Photo Modified: Flickr/AGirlWithTea)