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Is it more OK to cheat now? September 30, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, business strategy, business success, Business Success Coach, Career Wisdom, Coaching, Job advice, Notes for Business, Personal Success, Satisfaction, Veracity.

abc1The incidence of cheating seems to be on the rise.  In this article executive coach John M McKee highlights recent research that found this may be easily controlled.


Interesting article in this week’s (10/05/09) BusinessWeek magazine on the subject of cheating. Seems like the frequency of people being dishonest is way up.

The article, by Ellen Gibson, notes that this increase may be partially due to the aftermath of the financial crisis – led by individuals like Bernie Madoff and his ilk.  She goes on to quote Dan Ariely, a Duke U prof and author of a best seller called, Predictably Irrational.

He notes that people are more likely to cheat if they are a step removed from the cash payoff.  Something along the lines of, ” If I am not actually hurting or lying to the person I’m dealing with directly; I don’t feel as bad doing it.  And I’m more likely to do it.”

In an experiment involving 500 people, Ariely found that people who do small “cheating things” are more likely to do bigger ones when they get away with it.  Some of his test subjects were asked to wear counterfeit designer products while others wore the real brand.  The ones who felt they got away with cheating with the glasses were more likely ( 2x as likely) to cheat on other unrelated tasks.

In another test, he found that people who had to sign their names at the top of a test were less likely to cheat than those who didn’t sign the paper or those who signed at the bottom of the page.

His conclusion? When reminded of their better selves, by signing before the test, people are more likely to remain honest.  His advice to the IRS for next tax season:  Move the signature line to the top of the page.”

It may be worth trying on your end –  perhaps you can use this information to help yourself or others perform better.




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