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Dropping 17,000 ‘lost’ wallets across the globe taught researchers a big lesson about honesty.
Photo by Adam Gessaman / Flickr

The gold standard test for determining someone's honesty is seeing what that they do with a lost wallet. Do they keep it? Attempt to return it to the person who lost it? Or do they pocket the money and then dump it in a mailbox?

A researcher in Finland wanted to find out just how honest his countrymen were by posing as a tourist and dropping off a supposedly "lost" wallet with an employee at a local business and asking them to take care of it.

After the initial findings, the researchers hypothesized that if he added a larger sum of money in the billfold, fewer people would return the wallet. A poll of 279 top-performing academic economists agreed. But this time, the researchers decided to conduct the study on a larger scale.

Over two years, they staged over 17,000 wallet drops in 335 cities in 40 countries across the world and discovered that people are probably more honest than you think. The wallets were all about the same. They held a few business cards, a key, a grocery list. Some contained about $13 while others had no cash.


They discovered that in 38 of the 40 countries, people were much more likely to return wallets that had money, and in those that were less likely, the difference wasn't statistically significant.

Across 40 countries, 46% of wallets with no money were returned, compared with 61% with cash.

The researchers then conducted a "big money" study in the U.S., the U.K., and Poland by adding around $100 to the billfold and found that these wallets were returned 72% of the time.

"People were more likely to return a wallet when it contained a higher amount of money," the study's lead author Alain Cohn said, according to NPR. "At first we almost couldn't believe it and told him to triple the amount of money in the wallet. But yet again we found the same puzzling finding."

While the return rate in wallets with money versus no money was about the same across countries, there was a vast discrepancy in overall return rates. The more affluent countries returned the wallets far more often.

Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands,Denmark, and Sweden returned the highest percentage of wallets. China, Morocco, Peru, Kazakhstan, and Kenya returned the wallets at the lowest rate. The United States came out in the middle of the pack.

Although researchers aren't sure what specifically drives people to return lost wallets, basic human empathy is a huge reason. Another is that people don't want to think of themselves as thieves.

"[The study] shows in a very natural, experimental way our decisions about dishonesty are not about a rational cost-benefit analysis but about what we feel comfortable with from a social norm perspective and how much we can rationalize our decisions," Duke economist Dan Ariely told NPR.

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

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'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

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Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
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Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
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Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.