The National Honesty Index

10 days 50 states 10,000 Opportunities to Be Honest


HONEST® Tea, the nation’s top-selling organic bottled tea company, staged its fifth annual social experiment this summer examining how honest people are when they think no one is looking.

This year, for the first time ever, the company set up unmanned kiosks in all 50 states throughout the country stocked with cold HONEST beverages and asked $1 to be paid on the honor system; consumers chose to pay for a bottle or steal a bottle with no consequences.


In 2009, two HONEST employees left a rolling cooler filled with Honest Tea in a public square in San Francisco with a sign that read “Please Don’t Touch; Back in 15 Minutes.” They watched from across the street to watch and within 15 minutes the entire cooler was emptied. This prompted us to wonder about the honesty of people in other areas of the country. In 2010 we brought unmanned racks to 8 cities and discovered 89% of people were honest and paid for beverages, and in 2011 we focused on 12 cities in one day and 94% of people were honest. We evolved the activations in 2012 into the National Honesty Index, setting up in 35 cities over the course of one week and discovering 93% of people were honest overall.

How the Results were Generated:

Our team created a custom mobile application that allowed HONEST employees to observe and record who paid for beverages and who didn’t, as well as other characteristics such as gender, hair color (black, brown, red, blond, grey, none), hair length (long, medium, short,), facial hair (full beard, scruff, goatee, mustache) and accessories (hats, sunglasses, eye glasses). The employees were stationed unobtrusively near the kiosks in order to be as accurate as possible. Every location was treated the same and uploaded in the same manner. As this was a light-hearted social experiment, rather than a fully controlled scientific research test, we did our best to be as consistent as possible.

How your Results were Tabulated:

Since most Americans did not physically participate in our experiments in all 50 states and DC, we can’t determine your exact honesty percentage. But we figured we could still have some fun sharing our results with you. 

To generate the honesty percentage displayed for the characteristics inputted into the game, we factored in the honesty percentage of your selected gender in your selected state with the national honesty percentage of your selected hair color, hair length and any attributes selected.

Check out the results--you might be surprised to see how honest your state is!