Can Coffee Help Keep You Honest?


We know coffee has many health benefits for our bodies, but what about when it comes to our personalities? A new study by three college professors actually shows that drinking coffee can keep you more honest!

Researchers found that two cups of coffee can make workers more ethical. The study’s co-author Michael Christian said people often think of the “best” employees in a workplace as ones who are working nonstop. However, those are the ones who are often making the worst ethical choices. Being sleep-deprived or not thinking clearly can affect decisions, and caffeine can give those tired individuals the extra energy they need to resist that unethical behavior.

During the study, two groups of volunteers were kept awake all night. In the morning, one group was given a placebo piece of gum, while another was given gum laced with 200 mg of caffeine (about 2 cups of coffee worth). Both groups were then encouraged to go along with a lie in order to earn some extra money, in order to replicate a workplace situation where someone was asked to cut corners. As for the results, those with the placebo (no caffeine) showed a marked willingness to go along with the deception versus those who ingested the caffeine. It appears that caffeine can help strengthen your will power and control when you’re exhausted.

In terms of the workplace, this study shows that employers who want to reduce the chance of unethical behavior should make sure people aren’t working too many hours, and even suggests nap rooms! Most Americans sleep about 5.5 hours per night, on average, and the clinical definition of sleep deprivation is anything under seven hours.

This study was published in the March issue of Journal of Applied Psychology and you can read more here!


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