"You won't tell anyone though, right?"
"Mate, it's me, of course I won't tell anyone."
The above is a common exchange between mates, an exchange that transcends races and borders, an exchange that has the best of intentions, but an exchange that in 98% of cases, will fall flat on its arse as soon as a pizza is involved.
A recent study conducted by MIT has shown that 98% of students are willing to spill their mates' personal details in exchange for free pizza. To put it bluntly, a vast majority of people hold Italian flatbread in higher regard than their nearest and dearest.
Nearly three-quarters of people (74%) in the U.S. believe it's 'very important' to be in control of who can get information about them and 60% say they would never feel comfortable sharing their email contacts, but when offered free pizza in exchange for friends' email addresses, 98% of students would be more than happy to give them up.
"Whereas people say they care about privacy, they are willing to relinquish private data quite easily when incentivised to do so," the study's authors write.
The study used a sample of over 3,000 students who were all asked to turn over their mates' email addresses. Half of the sample were offered with pizza; the other half weren't.
What the researchers found was that 98% of students in the bribed group were willing to hand over the information without even batting an eyelid, proving the power of the pizza.
The analysis found the 'incentivised condition has a large, negative effect on the probability that students will protect the privacy of their friends relative to their behaviour in the non-incentivised condition'.
The authors added: "The results highlight how small incentives such as a cheese pizza can have a large effect on decisions about privacy,"
It also said 'irrelevant, but reassuring' information about privacy protection makes people less likely to avoid surveillance.
Christian Catalini, one of three authors of the study, told Market Watch: "[It is] important to rethink how consent is given in all these applications, mostly to make sure that consumers are actually making a choice consistent with their preferences.
"As more of our lives are becoming digital, making sure we have control over how and when our data is used will become more important over time," he added.
Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros./Friends