Sweating bullets, patting each pocket and frantically retracing your steps?
Most of you would be familiar with the panicked feeling of losing a wallet, but not all of us have been fortunate enough to have that wallet returned.
Related article: What to do as soon as you lose your phone
Related article: What's a digital wallet and how does it work?
The more money inside, the better
An international team of behavioural scientists planted over 17,000 “lots wallets” across 355 cities in 40 countries and found people were more likely to return the lost wallet if it contained money - and the more cash inside, the higher the chance of it being returned.
The researchers found that the presence of money - around $19 in local currency - boosted the return rate to 51 per cent, compared to just 40 per cent for empty wallets.
In the US, the UK and Poland, that response rate jumped to a whopping 72 per cent for wallets containing the equivalent of $135 in local currency, compared to 61 per cent for those containing $19 (in local currency).
If there was no money inside, the return rate dropped to just 46 per cent.
The researchers reported in the current issue of Science that the experiment most likely represented the truest picture of how people respond when no one is looking.
According to one author, and assistant professor at the University of Michigan, Alain Cohn, said the evidence suggested that people cared about the welfare of others, and didn’t like to think of themselves as a thief.
Another author, Christian Zuend of the University of Zurich said it “suddenly feels like stealing” when there’s money in the wallet, and it even more so “when the money in the wallet increases”.
Following the experiment, the researchers conducted a survey of over 2,500 people in the US, the UK and Poland on the same topic of returning lost wallets, and found that failing to return a lost wallet felt like stealing when more money was involved.
What would you do?
Make your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, news and tech news.