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Researchers Placed 17,000 Wallets In Different Cities To See How Many People Would Return Them



Have you ever found yourself in a situation when the only way out is to ask a stranger for help? That awful moment when you realise you’ve lost your keys, phone or wallet, or perhaps your car’s broken down and your phone has no signal… you may feel vulnerable and even angry at yourself for being in that situation, neither of which will be of any help at all. Brace yourself and ask for help and a kindly stranger does just that. At times like these you’ll realise that offering help to a stranger in distress is the right thing to do. A small act of kindness goes a long way…

To determine how many people would be kind to a stranger, researchers at Science Journal placed 17,000 wallets in different cities around the world to determine how many would be returned – an act of kindness experiment, so to speak.

Eleven men and two women traveled to forty countries, placing wallets in 355 cities with the aim of determining how each country’s citizens would respond to finding the wallets. Would they keep it or return it with contents intact and why?


Inside each wallet was a grocery list in the country’s native language, some with a key and money in the local currency and business cards with a name and email address. The average amount was $13.45 USD and $94.15 USD for those placed in the USA, UK and Poland. Some wallets had a key but no money.

Here’s the graph portraying how different countries responded to this experiment


The graph above shows the wallets with keys returned as yellow dots and those with money returned as a red dots.

The Scandinavian countries came out on top as the countries returning the most wallets. The lowest return rate was from China, Morocco, Peru, and Kazakhstan.
The researchers found that more wallets with a key were returned than those without a key, which indicates that people believe a key to be more important to the owner of the wallet.

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