Bankers' Misbehavior Might be a Matter of Culture

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The research model for a recent study on financial greed was simple: Swiss sociologists invited bankers to report the outcomes of 10 coin tosses while no one was watching.

Before subjects reported their outcomes, they were told which side — heads or tails — would be the winner of 20 dollars in each toss. In the first control group, these bankers seemed to tell the truth: subjects reported winning about 50 percent of the time.

But when subjects were reminded they were bankers — what they call "identity priming" in sociology — they seemed to lie a little. They won 58.6 percent of the time — an outcome that's statistically unlikely to be true: They were likely cheating.

As Deutsche Bank joins the ranks of banks punished for bad behavior this week, Money Talking's host Charlie Herman asks reporter Jessie Eisinger of ProPublica and Wall Street employee-turned-observer William Cohan — who wrote an article on the topic in this week in this week's Atlantic — whether Wall Street's culture has evolved since the financial crisis and whether or not it can be changed from the inside.