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There’s A Shopping Cart Theory That Tells If You’re A Good Or A Bad Person

The Shopping Cart theory is a viral theory online that can apparently help determine a person’s character. It’s a way to test whether a person is capable of self-governing. Also, would they do the right thing even when it is not expected of them? The theory has been doing the rounds on social media. According to Bored Panda, it may have originated in the dark corners of 4chan. When Jared from Atlanta shared it on Twitter it became even more popular. The theory suggests that a person’s moral character can be determined if they decide to return a shopping cart to a designated “cart return” spot or not.

The theory stated that “the shopping cart is the ultimate litmus test for whether a person is capable of self-governing. To return the shopping cart is an easy, convenient task and one which we all recognize as the correct, appropriate thing to do. To return the shopping cart is objectively right. There are no situations other than dire emergencies in which a person is not able to return their cart. Simultaneously, it is not illegal to abandon your shopping cart. Therefore the shopping cart presents itself as the apex example of whether a person will do what is right without being forced to do it.” So according to this theory if you chose to return the cart, then you are a good person.


The theory further states that “no one will punish you for not returning the shopping cart, no one will fine you, or kill you for not returning the shopping cart, you gain nothing by returning the shopping cart. You must return the shopping cart out of the goodness of your own heart. You must return the shopping cart because it is the right thing to do. Because it is correct. A person who is unable to do this is no better than an animal, an absolute savage who can only be made to do what is right by threatening them with a law and the force that stands behind it.”

Many people agree with the theory especially those who have had to pick up after someone’s slack. One Twitter user wroteI’m the cart guy at a grocery store and I can confirm that I look down at you when I see you abandon the carts. Please for the love of God and man and all that is right with the world RETURN YOUR CART. YOU’RE NOT HELPING ANYTHING BY DITCHING IT! PLEASE!

Psychotherapist and counselor Tati Silva also admitted that The Shopping Cart Theory makes a good argument. “It goes back to character and personality, both used to describe someone’s behavior,” Silva told Bored Panda. “Personality is shaped by one’s heredity and environment in which they were exposed, easy to ready (Lickeman, 2011). As for one’s character like honesty, virtue, and kindliness. They are revealed over time, through various situations. Characters are heavily influenced by the different situations we engage in. Therefore, if you choose not to take the shopping cart back it will expose your character,” Silva explained. “Because there is not a law that prohibits it or says that is wrong.

The behavior will continue because it is the individual that needs to determine what is right or wrong, bad or good because — again — there aren’t any social norms or rules that specify this behavior might be considered inappropriate.” The theory can be applied for other behaviors like throwing rubbish, cigarette butts, not holding the door open etc. according to Silva who added, “That might reveal your moral character. One might do it without being aware of it because it is engraved in their habit. However, that can be changed by expanding self-awareness. It is likely the first step in gaining control over any behavior you wish to change. “