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Cheating more when the spoils are split

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  • Wiltermuth, Scott S.
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    Abstract

    Four experiments demonstrated that people are more likely to cheat when the benefits of doing so are split with another person, even an anonymous stranger, than when the actor alone captures all of the benefits. In three of the studies, splitting the benefits of over-reporting one's performance on a task made such over-reporting seem less unethical in the eyes of participants. Mitigated perceptions of the immorality of over-reporting performance mediated the relationship between split spoils and increased over-reporting of performance in Study 3. The studies thus showed that people may be more likely to behave dishonestly for their own benefit if they can point to benefiting others as a mitigating factor for their unethical behavior.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597810000841
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 115 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (July)
    Pages: 157-168

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:115:y:2011:i:2:p:157-168

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

    Related research

    Keywords: Ethics Cheating Decision making Dishonesty Rationalization Justification;

    References

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    1. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
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    4. Schweitzer, Maurice E & Hsee, Christopher K, 2002. " Stretching the Truth: Elastic Justification and Motivated Communication of Uncertain Information," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 185-201, September.
    5. William Shaw, 2009. "Marxism, Business Ethics, and Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(4), pages 565-576, February.
    6. Gino, Francesca & Pierce, Lamar, 2009. "The abundance effect: Unethical behavior in the presence of wealth," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 142-155, July.
    7. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
    8. Bowles, Hannah Riley & Babcock, Linda & McGinn, Kathleen L., 2005. "Constraints and Triggers: Situational Mechanics of Gender in Negotiation," Working Paper Series rwp05-051, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    9. Iris Vermeir & Patrick Kenhove, 2008. "Gender Differences in Double Standards," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 81(2), pages 281-295, August.
    10. Turillo, Carmelo Joseph & Folger, Robert & Lavelle, James J. & Umphress, Elizabeth E. & Gee, Julie O., 2002. "Is virtue its own reward? Self-sacrificial decisions for the sake of fairness," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 839-865, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rilke, Rainer Michael & Walkowitz, Gari, 2013. "Lying and team incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 1-7.
    2. Wiltermuth, Scott S. & Bennett, Victor M. & Pierce, Lamar, 2013. "Doing as they would do: How the perceived ethical preferences of third-party beneficiaries impact ethical decision-making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 280-290.
    3. Gino, Francesca & Ayal, Shahar & Ariely, Dan, 2013. "Self-serving altruism? The lure of unethical actions that benefit others," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 285-292.
    4. Anastasia Danilov & Torsten Biemann & Thorn Kring & Dirk Sliwka, 2012. "The dark side of team incentives: Experimental evidence on advice quality from financial service professionals," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 03-13, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences, revised 18 Dec 2012.
    5. Shalvi, Shaul & Leiser, David, 2013. "Moral firmness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 400-407.

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