Monday, July 19, 2010

Bad News Sells

I was having lunch recently with my 13 year-old son Ryan when I felt compelled to lecture, as I do to both my boys at every opportunity, on the virtues of ethical behavior. I was motivated by a synopsis I had just read of a study of baseball card dealers that showed, while dealers and their customers knew they were being monitored, the business transacted was of a highly ethical nature.

In phase-one the customers were instructed to ask the dealers for the highest quality card, featuring a particular athlete, at a specified price they could afford. The results were inspiring, in that they showed that the customers made no attempt to low-ball the dealers and the dealers made no attempt to shortchange their customers.

The results of phase-two however offered no such inspiration. In the second phase the customers were aware they were being monitored, but the dealers were clueless. And unfortunately, when the dealers figured they could take advantage of an unsuspecting customer, undetected, the majority indeed chose to do so.

The study took place at a convention and, as it turned out, the out-of-town dealers were the worst of the culprits. They obviously figured they

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