Internet business people in the often-controversial pornography and domain-trading industries lie less and are more trusting, trustworthy and selfless than college students, recent research concludes.
Surprised? Scientists, whose research included students from the University of California Berkeley, adult-entertainment investors and domain-name traders said the findings caught them off guard.
Researchers had study participants play an investment game to test their pro-social behavior – how much they care more about others than themselves and whether they act in ways to benefit others.
“The way that you do business and survive is through cooperation and trust, and a lot of deals are better on a handshake. This investment game seemed really familiar to (non-student participants). This is a game they play all the time: I have to trust you not to backstab me,” said John Morgan, a professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and author of the study, “Who’s Naughty? Who’s Nice? Social Preferences in Online Industries.”
In the end, the students appeared significantly less pro-social.
“The differences were not small,” Morgan said. “Internet business people were twice as likely to both be trustworthy and over 50 percent more likely to trust in a trust game. … They lie one-third less often than students.”
Researchers aren’t quite sure why the Internet business people achieved the more favorable results, simply reporting they “think successful business people are more likely to be pro-social than not.”
The findings come at a time when both industries, which Morgan said are considered “shady,” face strong public criticism. Opponents of adult entertainment, for example, say porn promotes sexual assault and rape and believe minors are among the performers. Critics of the domain industry say some traders, despite laws against it, still practice cyber-squatting where they register domain names that include trademarks or typos of trademarks to unethically gain more page views.
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