Monday, May 26, 2014

Finnish honesty

A social experiment in the form of a  "wallet test" was recently performed in several major cities around the world.  The idea was to leave a wallet with cash and credit cards therein within a public place and then see how many wallets were returned versus taken. Helsinki ranked #1 in this test with the return of 11 out of 12 wallets. The worst was Lisbon, Portugal were only one wallet was returned out of 12, and the people who returned it were not even from Portugal.  I find it amazing how high Finland ranked, but after living here for almost 3 years I understand why.

Two separate recent personal incidents at the local swimming hall have helped cement my understanding of the honesty of the Finnish people.  Several months ago I was working out in the swimming hall's gym and was listening to music with somewhat expensive head phones.  Later into the work out, I placed the headphones back in their case, put them in my pocket and continued to work out. Following the work out, I headed back downstairs to use the shower and sauna.  As I was getting dressed I realized the headphones were missing.  I was pretty bummed after scouring the gym and not being able to locate them.  They must have fallen out of my pocket while exercising. I figured someone must have taken them since I was just there 30 minutes ago and they were no where to be found.  Then I thought I would give it one more chance by asking the front desk if maybe someone had returned them.  As soon as I asked the lady, she went back to get them and handed them over to me no questions asked.  So someone not only found them, but promptly returned them to the front desk.  Not sure if that would go over as smooth in the States.

My second incident also occurred at the swimming hall.  This time I was working out in the gym and had a loose car key in my pocket.  I guess I didn't learn how to secure items in my pocket the first time around. :)  Again, I finished my work out and went back downstairs to the gym and sauna.  As I was getting dressed I realized my car key was missing.  How would I get home, what was I going to do?  However, this time I didn't panic, I went calmly upstairs and searched the gym again, but it was not there.  Then I walked back over to the front desk and asked, and yet again, the lady returned the key to me.  So, someone in the gym had found it and promptly returned it to the "lost and found" at the front desk.  I went home later that evening with a smile on my face.

Finns should be really proud of themselves for living in a society which instills these values on it citizens. It makes for a happier society when people can trust their neighbors and officials.  I guess this golden virtue of honesty this might explain why Finns are not the best at Marketing and Sales jobs.  :)

You can read more about the social experiment test here: