Researchers found almost half of wallets misplaced at cultural centres were retrieved by their owners.
The social experiment, carried out across five British cities, found that a third of wallets dropped in shopping centres were also returned.
But not a single wallet dropped in cafés or public transport was handed in.
Researchers dropped 100 wallets at various locations in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff and Leeds, with each one containing 10 Pounds Sterling, a photograph, receipts, stamps and contact details for their owners.
They found one in every five wallets was handed back. People in the British capital are the most honest while those from Birmingham the most dishonest.
Only one in four lost wallets were returned to the West Midlands city but with the money removed. All wallets returned in the capital still contained money.
Despite the figures, almost two thirds of more than 2,000 people surveyed for the experiment said they would return a found wallet.
Figures show nine million wallets, containing an average of 85 Pounds Sterling and 7,000 Pounds Sterling in credit on cards, were lost or stolen over the past five years.
Experts said this equated to careless people losing more than 765 million Pounds Sterling over that time.