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There are Free Lunches: Behavioral Clues to Live Happy in the Economic World is a blog that intends to present updated and relevant information about the "hidden" and only recently uncovered dimensions of the economic science: the behavioral factors. With this blog we intend to promote in Europe and in the rest of the World, the top research articles and perspectives on behavioral economics, decision making, consumer behavior, and general behavioral science. We aim to be followed by journalists, academics, managers, civil servants, and everyone who wishes to improve their daily interaction with the economic world and consequently, their lives' happiness.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

"Honesty Bar"

While in vacations at the beautiful island of Madeira (I truly recommend it), I was amazed by the pools' bar management philosophy. It was called the "Honesty Bar" and it had no waiters! Besides that it had everything else a normal pool bar can have: fresh drinks, all sorts of snacks, chocolates and candies, bread, cheesse and ham that you can use to make a toast. It had also the several devices used in similar bars such as a coffee machine, ice refrigerator, and a toaster. Most impressively, it had a small safe-deposit box with a considerable amount of money, which you should use to pay for your consumption (all the items had a price indication) and do the changes yourself. At the same time, you should also indicate in a sheet of paper what was your consumption, how much did you pay, and what was your appartment number. Did it work? I would say I don't know for how long does it last, but by the amount of money there was in the box when I payed for my cheese and ham toast and "Brisa Maracujá" (passion fruit drink typical from Madeira), and a considerably filled sheet of paper, it worked perfectly!!
The question is, why did it worked? Or why would it not work in another context? Is it the vacation mode? The fair transaction happening between the turist and the appartments village? The fact that it was occuring within a small community of turists?
I think answering these questions would be an interesting exercise to understand the puzzle between altruistic and egoistic economic behavior.


  1. Woa, it's pretty impressive...
    Are you sure it wasn't a Social Psychologist's Experiment? Hahaha ;)

    But are you really sure it worked?
    Maybe the owner's point of view was: it's cheaper leaving a 'honesty bar' without employers, asumming the risk of some stolen stuff than facing the cost of having waiters...
    Maybe he had cameras around the bar...

    But as you say, there are many clues that might be explaining the issue: a small community of turists (instead of the protection of being anonymus within a large crowd)...

  2. Cameras, social experiments... I don't think so! Economical experiment - it seems closer... saving - may be.
    I heard about such places before. They are really great demonstration of non-economical factors influence the economy - may be new kind of economic science mainstream;)) Who knows?
    I don't remember the author now, but one wise man said: "It's better to speak to man's freedom, than to man's slavery." Mostly people like to look good and if the risk is not high, why don't use it?
    Anyway, I like it!
    Thank you for post, Diogo!

  3. I completely agree when you say that is better to speak to freedom rather than slavery: I believe all the people want to do good, the circumstances sometimes don't allow them :)
    Thanks for your comment!
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