Putting the signature box at the beginning of the form rather than the end resulted in a rash of honesty. iStock

The US federal government found a clever way to make a little extra money last summer. Some vendors who provide federal agencies with goods and services as various as paper clips and translators were given a slightly different version of the form used to report rebates they owe the government.

The only difference: the signature box was at the beginning of the form rather than the end. The result: a rash of honesty.

Companies using the new form acknowledged they owed an extra $US1.59 million ($2.3 million) in rebates during the three-month experiment, apparently because promising to be truthful at the outset actually caused them to answer more truthfully.

Binyamin Applebaum

Source: How Barack Obama used psychology to gain $2m | afr.com