The Honesty Test: How Honest Are We?

MAY 18, 2006 -- We all like to say we're honest, but what happens when we think no one is watching?  We've tested the honesty of people before. You may remember our story outside a Carolina Beach bank. Our hidden cameras showed person after person returning a check card that we continued to drop.  Now in a special report, we find out if the high price of gas tempts anyone to take the money and run.

What happens when gas prices get too much?  Does the temptation of not having to pay at the pump outweigh all those lessons our parents taught us?  It's a test between honesty and the need for free gas, and a gas card is going to help us find out which one wins out.

With each drop of a gas card at a Wilmington service station, our cameras watch to see what people do when they find the piece of plastic.  Producer Emily Hopkins drops the card in a high traveled spot.  Gas customer Nolan Black finds the card near his car.  He doesn't hesitate to return the card to the clerk inside the store.  Black says, "There's no need for that, you need to get it back to the people who own it."

More honest folks see the card, pick it up and return it.  However, there's some moments of hesitation for Tom Robinson, who examines the card closely, but he too returns the card.  Robinson says, "I know how pricey gas is, but I wouldn't want to take advantage of someone like that." Ronnie Johnson said returning the card was all he thought about.

Our cameras caught one man who wasn't so quick to hand in the card. He spots it, picks it up and walks away from the store. We confront him and after pulling the card out of his shirt pocket, returns the card, saying he wasn't going to use it. The man makes no apologies for not handing in the card. Actions like this one show not everyone is as honest as others think people should be.

During our test, no one tried to use the card to purchase gas, showing that at least most people won't let the pinches in their wallets lead them away from being honest.

Reported by Joe Keiley