America’s ‘most honest’ cities revealed by social experiment

Dylan Stableford
The Sideshow

Would you pay a dollar for a bottle of refreshing iced tea on a hot summer day if it was on the honor system?

That's what the makers of Honest Tea set out to find through an interesting social experiment conducted earlier this month in 30 U.S. cities.

Fifty unmanned pop-up kiosks--stocked with the company's organic iced tea and lemonade--were set up at well-trafficked locations between August 8 and August 19. The stands included signs asking for $1 per bottle to be dropped into a clear box. (The money collected was donated to charity.) A custom iPad application was used by undercover observers to collect the data, which was then compiled into what they're calling the first National Honesty Index.

The most honest city in America, according to the study, resulted in a tie between Oakland, Calif., and Salt Lake City, Utah. In both locations, everyone who approached the unmanned kiosks paid for their beverages. Boulder, Colo., at 99 percent honesty, was third, while San Francisco and Seaside Heights, N.J., (97 percent) tied for fourth place.

[Related: Toad Suck, Arkansas, voted 'most unfortunate' town name]

Brooklyn, New York, was the least honest location, according to the study: Just six in 10 people (61 percent) paid for their drinks at the kiosk at the Atlantic bus terminal. Venice Beach, Calif., was the second least honest, with 76 percent honoring the request to pay.

"It's fair to assume that the kind of location had an influence on the outcomes," Seth Goldman, Honest Tea co-founder and "TeaEO," wrote in an email to Yahoo News. "The setups in both Oakland and Salt Lake City were in shopping centers, where people may be more in a pay-for-what-you-get mindset. The activation in Brooklyn was located in a very busy public transport hub."

Overall, the experiment found women (95 percent) were more honest than men (91 percent)--and that redheads (94 percent) were marginally more honest than brunettes (92 percent) and blondes (90 percent).

The full list of cities, ranked in terms of honesty:

1. Oakland, Calif. (100%)
1. Salt Lake City (100%)
3. Boulder, Colo. (99%)
4. San Francisco (97%)
4. Seaside Heights, N.J. (97%)
6. Boston (96%)
6. Cincinnati (96%)
6. Galveston, Tex. (96%)
6. Seattle (96%)
10. Las Vegas (95%)
10. Washington, D.C. (95%)
12. Chicago (94%)
13. Austin, Texas (93%)
13. Cleveland (93%)
13. Palo Alto, Calif. (93%)
16. New York, N.Y. (92%)
16. Portland, Ore. (92%)
16. Sturgis, S.D. (92%)
16. Tempe, Ariz. (92%)
20. Atlanta (91%)
20. New Orleans (91%)
20. Atlantic City, N.J. (91%)
20. San Antonio (91%)
24. Denver (90%)
24. Anaheim, Calif. (90%)
26. Philadelphia (89%)
27. San Diego (87%)
28. Charlotte, N.C. (86%)
28. Miami (86%)
30. Los Angeles (79%)