Finding Wallets in Pittsburgh–A Social Experiment


Pittsburghers show their honesty by returning 12 out of 12 wallets in an experiment conducted by KDKA.

Investigator Marty Griffin from KDKA recently conducted a test in the Pittsburgh area to determine the honesty of the people in the city. Dropping 12 wallets with fake business cards inside, Griffin traveled to different parts of Pittsburgh and waited with a video camera to see how many people kept the wallet and how many returned it to the rightful owner.

The first wallet was dropped at the doors of Target on McKnight Road. On her way in, Cheryl Heisey noticed the forgotten wallet and opened it to find the fake business card inside. Once she had returned it to Griffin, KDKA reports that she stated, “I looked and there was a number in there. I assumed it was the owner.”

The next testing location was the Whole Foods in Wexford. In a matter of seconds, an employee saw the dropped wallet and quickly deposited it at the front desk. Soon after, Griffin was contacted and the wallet was returned.

Near the Butler County Courthouse, a judge’s clerk picked up the fake wallet and immediately handed it to the judge walking with her. He then walked inside the courthouse and turned it in to Kevin Stiles, the deputy. Shortly after, the business number was called and the wallet quickly found its way back to Griffin.

The fourth stop was on Penn Avenue, where Todd Levine quickly spoke up when he saw the investigator drop his wallet, saying to KDKA reporters, “I didn’t want anybody to pick up your wallet.”

Later on, even the students of Washington and Jefferson University were tested. Electing to miss a class in order to return the wallet, student Jessica Nickerson walked across campus to turn it into Campus Police. Her reason for going to all that trouble was because she believes good things will happen to those who help others.

Two more wallets were dropped in downtown, both of which were returned. Beaver was also selected as a testing site, and the people there also turned in the wallet. The final place was a truck stop, where another person also returned the wallet.

The 12 for 12 ratio, however, is hardly common. For example, Madrid, Spain garnered a measly 2 returned wallets out of the 12 dropped in a similar test. Even worse off is Lisbon, Portugal, where only one was returned.

On the other side of the spectrum is the capital of Finland, the city of Helsinki. Noted as the most honest city in a similar test, the people in Helsinki returned a respectable 11 out of the 12 dropped wallets.