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Keeping and Taking Money Poll

This poll might not be quite what you expected. You see, many people at the store, walking down the street, or whatever, might drop some money. It happens. What is most interesting to me is what people following behind the person would honestly do if they saw it happen.

Studies, including candid ones, have actually been done about this. The studies usually focus on whether people would simply pocket the cash or let the person know that they’d dropped money. Not surprisingly, considering our current society, when this has been actually recorded, the majority of people keep the money. What is rather amazing is that in America, roughly 40% have returned the money to the person who dropped it, or at least made an attempt to do so. That number is surprisingly high.

Here is a hypothetical situation: You are at the store, doing some shopping. You notice that a five dollar bill falls out of someone’s pocket, lands on the floor, and they are obviously not aware that it happened and are walking away. Be totally honest; what would you do?

  • What would you do if you saw the money fall?

    • I’d pick it up and put it in my pocket.
    • If they were well-dressed and obviously had money, I’d keep it. It is only $5, after all, and I need the money.
    • If it was only $5, I’d keep it. I’d return it if it was a lot more.
    • I’d think about keeping it, but would probably return it to the owner if I could.
    • I have no doubt that I’d return it. I’d give it back.
  • Have you ever seen someone drop money and returned it to them?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Have you ever dropped money and had it returned to you?

    • Yes
    • No

What do you think?

9 points
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Written by Rex Trulove

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27 Comments

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      • I would step on it. Then I would watch the interactions of the people involved. If they left before I had thought it through I would not put it in my pocket, but would play it forward in some way, such as using it to buy food for someone hungry or a gift for an elderly person, or some such thing. It might only be $5 but it could brighten someone’s day.

          • The times I’ve seen this happen, the person dropping the money has never been aware of it at all. Their reactions before I’ve returned the money haven’t been any different than they would have been had they never dropped the money.

  1. Always return the money. It happened before and I always go to people to tell them they dropped some money. At one point there was a rather decent amount of money lost in the street and I searched for the guy that lost it. I found the guy, he needed that money for a surgery. So, it’s better to return the money, you never know what people need them for.

  2. I have caught up with people that have dropped money and gave the money back. Once I found a 20 dollar bill in a bathroom where the Harlem Globe Trotters played at. At first I thought I was on candid camera lol, because it was perfectly placed in one of the bathroom sinks lol. Nobody was in there, so I knew if I would have ask a lot of other people most would have claimed it. I did keep it and took my family out for pizza lol, but had to add more money to it lol. What would you have done Rex? normally if i would ever see someone drop money I would make sure they got it back. That circumstance was too weird.

    • If you don’t know who dropped it and there is no honest way to find out, there is nothing wrong with keeping it. That happened to me once, only it wasn’t a 20, it was a $100 bill. There was nobody anywhere near the bill and as you said, most people I would have asked would have claimed it. At the time, I had two young children in the home, no money, and very little food. I bought food with it.

      There have been several times I’ve actually seen a person drop money, or was almost certain that they did, and returned it to them. Once, I actually had to leave the store and run after the person to return the money. Thankfully, they didn’t think that I was out to get them or anything and they were very appreciative. So were the workers at the store.

      I’ve also had a $10 bill returned to me after it fell out of my pocket.

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