How to check who to trust online

Greedy people are less ethicalWhich profession scores pretty low in terms of trust measurements? Politicians, certainly, journalists, often, but these days it’s a pretty safe bet to say that bankers are the bottom of the heap. Everywhere you look there is criticism of those champagne swilling, bonus grabbing toffs from Wall Street or the City of London.

So where might “Internet Marketers” fit into the trust league tables? Or “Social Media Gurus”? Or “SEO Experts”? Well, here’s the second safe bet of the day – you are bound to have seen websites offering you some really generous promises, such as “getting you to number one on Google in 24 hours” or “helping you make a million dollars in a month”. How often do you fall for them? Most of us, of course, do not reckon much to such sites – though there are enough gullible people in the world who do, otherwise how could such “businesses” exist?

And how do you stop yourself being gullible in the first place? How can you spot the difference between a true search marketing expert and a charlatan?

Easy-peasy, according to new research; ask what social class they are in. The study found that the MOST UNETHICAL people are those in the highest social classes. In other words, some of those posh bankers, perhaps..! Yes, such people are much more likely to be unethical than that bloke who turned up at your front door, uninvited, offering to tarmac your drive.

Of course, as with all studies it is not quite as simple as that. It turns out the element which actually predicts unethical behaviour is attitude to greed. If you think greed is OK, you are much more likely to be unethical. And, it seems that such attitudes are more prevalent in the higher social classes.

So, what about those Internet Marketers and SEO Gurus…? Well, if they focus on the money you can make, show you their yachts and their flash cars, the chances are they are more OK with greed as a concept. And that means you should steer clear because they are much more likely to be unethical.

But then you probably already knew this. When you visit a website and all you see are pictures of the “guru” on the beach with captions saying “you too can have a lifestyle like this” you probably get a sense that all is not quite as it seems. Your “gut instinct” usually tells you to get out of there. All this new research does is tell us why your gut is right. People who think greed is OK exhibit more unethical behaviour than those who have a different attitude to making money. Remember, profit is OK, greed is not.

The only problem is, greed tends to display itself much more in higher social classes. So aren’t you glad you are not too posh yourself?


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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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