Reporters from Reader’s Digest, the US consumer magazine, dropped wallets at various locations – from parks to shopping centres – in major cities around the globe, to see whether those residents that recovered them would attempt to contact the owner.
Each wallet contained around £30 in local currency, a mobile number, business cards, and a family photo.
In total, nearly half (47 per cent) of wallets were returned, but that figure varied wildly among the different cities involved in the study.
The most honest to feature was Helsinki, where all but one of the 12 wallets was returned to its owner. And the least honest? Lisbon – where just one was given back.
"Finns are naturally honest," said Lasse Luomakoski, a 27-year-old businessman, who found one of the wallets dropped in the Finnish capital. "We are a small, quiet, closely-knit community. We have little corruption, and we don't even run red lights." Another Helsinki couple in their sixties said: "Of course we returned the wallet. Honesty is an inner conviction."
Other honest cities included Mumbai, where nine wallets were returned; Budapest, where eight were handed back; and New York, where eight owners were also tracked down.
"Everyone says New Yorkers are unfriendly but they’re really quite a nice people," said Richard Hamilton, a 36-year-old government worker from Brooklyn, found a wallet near City Hall. "I think you’d be very surprised to see how many New Yorkers would actually return [a wallet]."
London didn’t fare so well – just five of the 12 wallets were returned – but still outshone Lisbon in the honesty stakes. Just one wallet was returned in the Portuguese capital, and it later transpired that the couple who returned it were visiting the city from The Netherlands.
Madrid was the second-least truthful – only two were given back – followed by Prague and Zurich.
The report added that: "Age is no predictor of whether a person is going to be honest or dishonest; young and old both kept or returned wallets; male and female were unpredictable; and comparative wealth seemed no guarantee of honesty."
Holidaymakers hoping to keep hold of their valuables might also heed to advice of a recent survey by the website Sunshine.co.uk.
Its poll revealed that one in seven Britons has been pickpocketed while overseas, with Rome, Marrakech, Spain’s Costa del Sol and Dubrovnik among the destinations where you’re most likely to become a victim.
|City||Number of wallets returned (out of 12)|
|Rio de Janeiro||4|