Much bemused wryness in lefty workplaces across the land as an article in The Guardian goes slightly viral by reporting that people who buy ethical products are more likely to cheat or steal.

The authors of the study construct a highly speculative model of “moral balancing,” postulating that having made one ethical decision we feel licensed to make an unethical one.

But of course the authors cannot isolate the recent experience of having selected an organic product from all the other factors that determine whether we’ll cheat. The kind of person we are before the experiment starts determines both whether we are likely to respond positively to the availability of organic products, and whether we’ll cheat.

What kind of people are likely to have built a positive and familiar association with ethical products? It seems no great leap to suggest that it is the people who routinely buy them in everyday life. And what kind of people are they? The middle and upper class.

So does this study show that working-class people are just nicer people than the well-off?

If so, it wouldn’t be the first to do so.

Gary Dunion

About Gary Dunion

Gary Dunion is the Communications Coordinator for the Scottish Green Party and works for the independent MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.