What happens when you give Londoners a chance to prove their honesty in a unique, fun and totally unscientific social experiment? In a light-hearted test of north versus south, and east versus west, who comes out on top? And in a not-very-serious battle of the sexes, who are the most honest?

To mark its arrival in the capital, organic herbal tea drink Honest® conducted a social experiment, setting up ‘honesty boxes’ in various London locations. The unmanned bottle displays had a simple request: £1 each; Take one, leave £1. And participants were observed from afar – with some interesting results…

Over a period of three weeks, thirsty, intrigued and excited Londoners engaged with the Honest® stands, some paying the full £1, others paying a little in small change, with foreign currency, or not paying at all – and a lovely few donated without even taking a bottle just because they liked the idea.

Of those who enjoyed a bottle of Honest, 85% paid something for their bottle of Honest®, while only around one in seven didn’t pay at all.

The official Honest London Index League Table:

Top of the honesty league table were workers in trendy Brick Lane, with 94% making a contribution to the honesty box. While in the ever-bustling Brixton Market people were 80% honest, two in four choosing to nab a bottle – or more – without paying a penny.

1.  East London    94% honest

2.  West London    93% honest

3.  Central London/North London    84% honest – EQUAL

4.  South London    80% honest

Looking at age-old rivalries, north went up against south and east against west. People in north London (84%) triumphed over those in the south, where 80% made a contribution for a bottle. And east London’s 94% just edged it over the west, with 93%.

The battle of the sexes:

Women in London came out on top, with 86% making a donation in comparison to a slightly lower 84% of men. On further observation, women were most likely to donate small change, or at least something in order to ‘look like’ they were being honest, while men would either pay the full £1 or nothing at all.

But how does that compare to the rest of the UK? In a national YouGov survey, Honest® explored honesty among over 2,100 UK adults, revealing that men were more honest than women when it comes to work, health and romance.**

Judging by appearance:

In the social experiment, brunettes (88%) were slightly more honest than blonds (83%), and both were more honest than those with black hair, only 78% of whom were honest. Brunette women were also most likely to take a moment, analyse the ingredients and then donate for a bottle.

  • Those wearing glasses triumphed, and were 91% honest
  • 78% of people with visible tattoos or piercings were honest
  • Men with beards were 69% honest
  • Baldies were more honest (93%) than those with hair (84%)
  • Overall, men with long hair seemed to be the most honest
Honest Survey Beards

The best bits:

  • One woman paid for two bottles – one for her, another for her hairdresser
  • A kindly sole bought five bottles for his colleagues, with a £5 note
  • A dog lover paid for a bottle, and then showed it to the dog for approval
  • One person paid with a Euro coin, another paid with two Nuevos Soles (from Peru)
  • Mums used the opportunity to explain to young children the concept of honesty – and then encourage their little ones to pay for a bottle
  • A driver stopped his bus full of passengers to nip out and pay for a bottle for him and a colleague who was driving behind him
  • One woman stopped her car at a red traffic light, paid £1, grabbed a bottle and whizzed off
  • A homeless man selling flowers paid the full £1 for a bottle of Honest® just as a man in a suit grabbed a bottle without paying
  • Couples were most honest, 92% of pairs paying, compared to 84% on their own

What is it all about?

The Honest Index as an experiment was first conducted in the US, in cities around the country. As a brand that prides itself on honesty and transparency as a part of its very business model, Honest® thought it would be a fun way to observe the honesty of people around the country – when they thought they were not being watched. In New York this year, nine in 10 paid for a bottle, compared to eight in 10 Londoners.

Speaking about his excitement the brand’s arrival in London, and the findings of the London Honest Index, Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest® commented: “Bringing Honest® to the UK is one of those pinch-me moments – and being able to conduct the Honest Index here after the success we’ve had in the US is really something. We thought we’d try the Honest index in London, and it’s great such positive and heart-warming results.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:                   

For media enquiries please contact:

Loriann Luckings-Marwood, Radiator Communications: 020 7404 8264

How the Honest index social experiment was conducted

The London Honest index involved setting up seven installations in locations around London: Brick Lane – Truman Brewery, Chiswick High Road, Westminster Christchurch Gardens, Primrose Hill, Soho Square, Brixton Market and Exmouth Market. The stands contained 100 bottles of Honest® with a sign that read: £1 each; Take one, leave £1. The stands were unmanned, but filmed and observed from afar by a team, who then approached participants to explain the nature of the activation, the charity donation and talk about Honest® as a brand. The seven installations were seen by a total of 6,450 people, and 700 people engaged.

How the YouGov survey was conducted

This survey has been conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov Plc UK panel of 800,000+ individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. All figures, unless otherwise stated are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2137 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th and 29th August 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

** The YouGov survey revealed that 39% of women admitted to ‘pulling a sickie’ in the course of their careers… but 51% of their male colleagues said they had never feigned illness to avoid work. One third of UK women had secretly cheated on a diet and then pretending they hadn’t, while only 23% of UK men admitted to doing the same. And the survey revealed that women are the most dishonest daters, 37% admitting to making up an excuse to get out of a date, compared to a much smaller and more honest 27% of men.


HONEST®, a new organic bottled herbal tea brand, has launched in the UK for the first time, with three low calorie variants that taste “Just a Tad Sweet.” After almost 20 years of success as the top-selling organic bottled tea in the US, HONEST® will launch in the UK on August 1st, 2016. HONEST® is aimed at those who seek organic refreshment during their busy on-the-go lifestyle. The three variants launching this summer are: Lemon Flavoured Herbal Tea with Honey, Orange and Mango Flavoured Herbal Tea and Pomegranate and Blueberry Flavoured Herbal Tea. Each variant contains brewed organic herbal tea (hibiscus, lemon balm and lemon myrtle, depending on the variant), organic fruit juice concentrates and each variant is sweetened with organic cane sugar.