Why You Likely Lie and Cheat a Little and What Changes That
You might think it’s the promise of a big money reward that incites a person to cheat or lie, but according to new research, little things trigger more dishonesty than a sizeable cash reward. In a test of college students who were entrusted to record their own scores, researchers found the students were more likely to lie about their scores if the money reward was only 50 cents, as opposed to $10. In variations of the test, they also found that the level of cheating was unaffected by the probability of getting caught.
Substituting tokens for money also changed the students’ cheating behavior―for the worse. And, maybe not so surprisingly, more students cheated when they knew for certain that others had, too. Another surprising factor was the perception of a moral code: when researchers reminded students of moral codes in connection with the tests, no cheating occurred. When all was said and done, the moral of the research was that everyone cheats a little, but very few people cheat to the maximum degree.
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