Lost wallet test - how did Gladstone residents do?
IT IS the ultimate test of morality - if you found an abandoned wallet, would you give it back?
Well, this week, we put Gladstone to the test.
We dropped 10 wallets around the city - in Sun Valley, Goondoon St, West Gladstone, New Auckland, Clinton, Kin Kora and Calliope - to see how many would be returned, and how many would be intact.
The wallets contained family photographs, varying amounts of cash, receipts, chewing gum, loyalty cards and a contact phone number.
Well, congratulations Gladstone - eight out of ten of our lost wallets were returned.
Evolutionary psychologist Professor William Von Hippel said generally people had two motivations to do the right thing.
"There is the pro-social motive where people are inherently more concerned with the wellbeing of other people and put themselves in the shoes of others," he said.
"The other is that people like to think about themselves as good people and doing the right thing makes them more convincing when they interact with others."
Not everybody shares the pro-social thoughts and many people believe it is a dog-eat-dog world, he said.
"Some people will take advantage of the situation once they arise because they believe if it was their wallet it would not be returned to them," he said.
"People with a competitive nature have that orientation but there isn't anyone who will always be helpful. Most of us lie somewhere in-between."
Gladstone police property and exhibits officer Vicki Larner said people were often unaware that "steal by find" was a law.
"People don't realise by holding onto something you are actually committing an offence," she said.
"We have a lost and found section and all police are skilled in taking property. They are trained in identifying who owns wallets and we have a database we can get use that is a lot better than social media.
"But some of these things are really hard to find the owners for."
Some of the items in the police lost property box: Someone's ashes that were left in a taxi, fishing rods, clothes, a canoe, phones, wallets, tools and jewellery.
So, Gladstone, how did we fare?
- We dropped 10 wallets around the Gladstone region throughout the week.
- Eight of the wallets were returned to their owner, still in tact.
- Of the eight, two were handed in to the police station.
- One was returned, but the cash had been taken from it.
- One still has not been returned (we'll keep you posted).