Monday, July 23, 2007

Karma and Cell Phones

Do you believe in karma? Results from the Reader’s Digest Global Cell Phone Honesty Test indicate that many people just might believe in the basic principles of this concept.
Reporters left 30 cell phones in busy areas of 32 countries, than hid in the bushes, called the phones, and watched to see what happened. Think many unaware passers-by looked left, right, swiped the phone and walked away? Wrong. The majority of people agreed to meet the reporter and return the phone to its rightful owner.

Not surprisingly, the reason most people cited for returning the phone was the basic principles behind karma: everything you do in life has an equal effect. In basic terms, what goes around comes around. Many reported having lost something of their own recently, whether it was a cell phone, wallet, or something else of value.

“If you can help somebody out, why not?” said Ryan Demchuk, a 29-year old insurance broker from Toronto. “Integrity in this city is exceptional. I lost my wallet and got it back, and I returned two wallets in a week.”

Demchuk was right about the integrity of the city: according to the results of the Reader’s Digest test, Toronto ranked second, with 28 of the 30 phones having been returned! Toronto was beat out only by Ljubljana, Slovenia, where 29 of the 30 phones were returned. Despite popular belief, the younger generation was not more prone to swiping the lost devices: they were just as honest as their elders; while women were slightly more likely to return the phones than men.

Other North American cities ranked as follows: Montreal was 5th with 25 phones returned; and New York was 6th (tied with Mumbai, India and Manila, Phillipines) with 24. Which country bottomed out the list? Hong Kong, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malysia tied for last place with only 13 of the 30 phones returned. The average return rate was 68 per cent.

“In almost every city,” noted Peter Stockland, Editor-in-Chief at Reader’s Digest Canada, “at least half of the phones were returned, and this was far above our expectations.”

Do you believe in karma? Or would you praise the winfall and pocket a "lost" phone or other item of value?

The complete results of the test can be found at


Anonymous said...

Though Mumbai, is a fast-paced and competitive city, it’s residents also have a heart. Among the thousands of cases of robberies, rapes, riots, blasts, murders that are reported, I’m sure there must be at least 10 cases of kindness going unnoticed or unreported. There are so many instances when someone turns up with your misplaced cellphone or a forgotten wallet.
The survey has rightly pointed out the city’s honesty, though personally I feel we could have been ranked a bit higher as compared to the current fifth position.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

hi anonymous,

I agree, and I think what you said can apply to any area of the world. People tend to report the bad, and not so much the good. As for this particulat study, I wouldn't take the results to heart, or as a mass representation of the city as a whole.

thank you for your comments.