Honest Tea, an organic bottled tea company based in Bethesda, Maryland, recently conducted social experiments in several US cities, including Boston, by setting up unmanned kiosks of Honest Tea bottles for purchase on the honor system. For each bottle, people were asked to put a buck in a locked plastic box. Boston proved to be the most honest, eking out a first-place finish with 93.3 percent honesty, just ahead of Washington, D.C.’s 93 percent. Other cities were San Francisco, 91 percent; New York, 89 percent; Atlanta, 89 percent; Chicago, 78 percent; and Los Angeles, 75 percent.
“Although a sociologist might find flaws with our social experiment, we were surprised and heartened to discover that across the country, Americans will do the right thing, even when no one is looking,” said Seth Goldman, who bills himself as the TeaEO of Honest Tea.
The company produced short videos of each city’s experiment. In LA, one woman bought 10 bottles to give away to strangers. In Washington, a homeless man paid a buck and expressed thanks for someone believing in him. In San Francisco, a woman asked “What if we placed more trust in people. How could the honor system benefit society on a grander scale?”
Boston’s clip showed a bunch of honest people ponying up for the brew and one guy who pulled up on a bicycle, snagged a bottle, and rode away without paying — right by what looks like two Boston cops.
Posted by Paul E. Kandarian, Globe correspondent