Cheaters get a natural ‘high’ from breaking the rules, a new study has found.
Far from feeling guilty about not playing fair, dishonest people benefit from a ‘cheaters high’, researchers claim.
The University of Washington, London Business School, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have carried out a series of studies into how cheaters perceive their actions.
The findings showed that the majority of cheaters viewed their behaviour in a positive light.
Researchers led by Nicole Ruedy at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business asked subjects to predict how they’d feel about cheating and then asked them how they felt after completing tasks where they actually did cheat.
The studies showed that most people predicted they’ll feel bad about cheating, but most felt good after doing it.
It suggests that the thrill of pulling off a deception outweighs the negative feelings associated with immoral behaviour.
The study could go some way to explain why people get involved in financial scams when they are already very wealthy.
The report states: ‘Our documented pattern of results helps to explain otherwise puzzling unethical behavior, such as the finding that people often cheat even for trivial sums of money.’
It added that cheaters, even when under suspicion of breaking the rules, felt better off and smarter than their non-cheating colleagues.