Department of Government

Essex Centre for the Study of Integrity

University of Essex

Our centre

Electoral politics and public opinion in Britain has been increasingly influenced by the perception that governments are dishonest and that MPs in particular are "in it for themselves" and cannot be trusted.

We conduct research into dishonesty in public and private life in Britain with the aim of understanding its nature and causes and how the public perceive it. Our broader aim is to make recommendations about how public cynicism about honesty in government and in the private sector can be addressed, by taking advantage of our University's high level of expertise in social science research.

Latest research: How honest are you?

Britons are less honest than they were a decade ago, according to our latest research.

Take our integrity test (.pdf) now to see how you rate in integrity compared with Britons in general. How did you do? Send your score and any comments to

Our project has been covered extensively in the media and featured on BBC Radio 4's Best of Today podcast series.

Our goals

To be effective, the study of integrity needs a broad, interdisciplinary approach which considers economic, sociological, psychological, philosophical, legal and political issues. Our ambition is to investigate the scope, causes and consequences of both honest and dishonest behaviour in public and private life.

Our initial focus is on the UK, but comparisons will be made with other countries as the Centre grows, with the aim of understanding how Britain compares with the rest of the world.

What we do

We are currently focusing on three key areas of work:

  • The integrity audit - the Centre is planning to conduct an integrity audit of the UK population, bringing together a variety of existing data relating to standards of integrity in British society to produce an overall picture of the state of integrity in Britain.
  • The integrity survey - the Centre will conduct a scoping survey of integrity in British society with the aim of identifying the extent to which it varies across communities, religions, age, income and other social cleavages in contemporary Britain.
  • Consultancy - the Centre offers an ‘integrity health check’, for public and private sector organisations concerned with their relationships to the wider world. The emphasis of these health checks is on identifying cultures that promote or inhibit integrity within an organisation, rather than just auditing past behaviour.

Our Centre was launched in 2012 at the House of Lords in London.

Our members

Professor Paul Whiteley is the Director of the Essex Centre for the Study of Integrity. Associate members of the Centre include:

Contact us

Professor Paul Whiteley

Essex Centre for the Study of Integrity

University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ

Telephone +44 (0)1206 872641