Did anyone do a research on corelation between honesty and success, establishing individual's honesty through a provocative experiment and comparing it with his/her salary amount, satisfaction of achievement etc? Or anything close to that?

  • $\begingroup$ I wonder how would you measure someone's honesty. Without independent verification, they might be lying. $\endgroup$
    – user3169
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 3:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user3169 -- Obviously you would not ask a person whether he or she is honest. One of the best methods would be covert observation (in the field) followed by an objective measurement protocol using the gathered data. There are various ways in which to assess honesty indirectly. I have run a questionnaire with a similar goal in the past (measuring ethics through judgement on various scenarios), although that was just for school. I do find this overall topic very important, and I would like to see proper research done on the topic of which OP has inquired. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ In ideal world , there is but in our ... $\endgroup$
    – Joker
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 9:35

3 Answers 3


No provocative experiment needed. Some of the major taxonomies within personality psychology have well-validated measures for honesty, and have been used in massive samples that could already address this question. I would start by doing a search on Google Scholar for those measures and the types of success you mention. E.g.,


Notice that the trait most often associated with success is Conscientiousness, which may include an aspect of honesty:


  • $\begingroup$ It's strange given that people with machiavellian traits more often reach success. And they typically score lower on conscientiousness. Of course, it may be that only those who are higher in both reach success more often. But given that the correlation is strong, it's unlikely. $\endgroup$
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ @rus9384 please share the citation from the research you mention. I imagine it also depends on how you define success. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 21:18

To add to the existing answer, honesty-humility is a major factor in the HEXACO framework of personality.

There is a comprehensive list of papers using the HEXACO framework here organised under a wide range of headings: http://hexaco.org/references

My sense of the literature is that honesty-humility in the HEXACO framework is related more to ethical behaviour and lower levels of deviant behaviour (e.g., counterproductive work behaviours, criminality, deviance, etc.), as well as lower levels of self-interest and egotism.

I don't think it has a major direct relationship with success and achievement, at least empirically. But I haven't reviewed the literature.

Theoretically, deviant behaviour would often reduce life success. Getting fired, damaging your reputation, going to prison, getting expelled from school, and so on. However, also, some degree of self-interest may also assist in personal achievement. Furthermore, it may just be that it's not the most relevant dimension of personality: i.e., conscientiousness and abilities are probably more related to achievement.

  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't it depend on how much that behaviour is deviant? It is hard to know if a human lies, especially if lies are small. $\endgroup$
    – rus9384
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 5:25

(This answer your question only partially).

Honesty and success are made of many things. Quite a bunch of studies found interesting correlations between honesty and success at the collective/cultural level. (They measure the success in term of wealth, trust, quality of the institution, rights, etc.).

Just a sample to give an idea:

● Edward C. Banfield (1958) shows some correlation between many aspects of honesty and success (he wrote a book about it The Moral Basis of a Backward Society).

● Arrow (1972) & Fukuyama (1995) found that the level of trust in a society strongly predicts its economic success.

● Guido Enrico Tabellini (an Italian economist) find that "there is not just one institutional failure. Typically, the countries or regions that fail in one dimension also fail in many other aspects of collective behavior."

● Inglehart (1990, 1997) analyses of a broader range of societies, and argue that cultural values fundamentally drive economic performance and democratic stability.

● Landes, D. S. (1998) & Rogers D. found that people's value shape their wealth (they wrote a book: The wealth and poverty of nations: why some are so rich and some so poor)

References: (you'll find many others in the references of their studies).

● Banfield, E. C. (1958). with the assistance of Laura Fasano Banfield. The moral basis of a backward society.

● Arrow, K. J. (1972). Economic welfare and the allocation of resources for invention. In Readings in industrial economics (pp. 219-236). Palgrave, London.

● Porta, R. L., Lopez-De-Silane, F., Shleifer, A., & Vishny, R. W. (1996). Trust in large organizations (No. w5864). National Bureau of Economic Research.

● Tabellini, G. (2008). Presidential Address: Institutions and Culture. Journal of the European Economic Association, 6(2/3), 255-294. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40282643

● Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and postmodernization: Cultural, economic, and political change in 43 societies. Princeton university press.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome! These sources seem interesting/relevant! Might I encourage you to add these references as full APA references at the bottom of your answer for easier reference? $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris Done! $\endgroup$
    – JinSnow
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 14:51

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