Signing Your Name at the Top Makes You More Honest
If someone handed you a form and told you to sign it, without specifying where, you'd probably do it on the bottom -- that's been the convention for hundreds of years, so you'd have to be some sort of jackass to mess things up by signing at the top of the page, right? Well, that might be so, but it turns out that signing at the top also predisposes you to become a more ethical person.
"Shit. I guess I won't kill those guys."
Yep, it turns out that whether you lie or not can be influenced by something as mundane as the placement of your signature, and it may sound bizarre, but there's a perfectly rational explanation for it.
In one study, researchers gave participants two different forms. On one form, they had to answer a math test, and the higher their score, the more money they'd be given. For the second form, they had to file claims for reimbursement of certain expenses. But here's the thing: Both forms were completely self-reported, so they could put down whatever they wanted.
Which is why half the participants claimed their name was "Speed McSexhaver."
On some forms, the signature was required at the top, and on others, it was asked for at the bottom. And what do you know: On average, people who were made to sign their names at the top reported lower math scores and also filed for fewer reimbursements. Unless those people just happened to be dumber and more forgetful, this means that signing at the top makes you more honest.
But why would that happen? This is actually the result of a psychological phenomenon called the signature effect -- when we write down our names, we are subconsciously reminded of who we are and what we aspire to be. And whether you believe it or not, most people aspire to be good, and good guys don't generally lie.
"Unless it's about condoms -- then it's time for the candy wrapper gambit."