Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Cheating more for less: Upward social comparisons motivate the poorly compensated to cheat

Contents:

Author Info

  • John, Leslie K.
  • Loewenstein, George
  • Rick, Scott I.
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Intuitively, people should cheat more when cheating is more lucrative, but we find that the effect of performance-based pay-rates on dishonesty depends on how readily people can compare their pay-rate to that of others. In Experiment 1, participants were paid 5 cents or 25 cents per self-reported point in a trivia task, and half were aware that they could have received the alternative pay-rate. Lower pay-rates increased cheating when the prospect of a higher pay-rate was salient. Experiment 2 illustrates that this effect is driven by the ease with which poorly compensated participants can compare their pay to that of others who earn a higher pay-rate. Our results suggest that low pay-rates are, in and of themselves, unlikely to promote dishonesty. Instead, it is the salience of upward social comparisons that encourages the poorly compensated to cheat.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597813000770
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 123 (2014)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 101-109

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:123:y:2014:i:2:p:101-109

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

    Related research

    Keywords: Dishonesty; Decision making; Social comparison; Fairness; Pay secrecy;

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Nina Mazar & Dan Ariely, 2006. "Dishonesty in everyday life and its policy implications," Working Papers 06-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    2. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
    3. David Card & Alex Mas & Enrico Moretti & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," Working Papers 1269, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jason Snyder, 2010. "Gaming the Liver Transplant Market," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 546-568.
    6. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation Of The Prevalence And Predictors Of Teacher Cheating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 843-877, August.
    7. Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Does Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 414-418, May.
    8. Greenberg, Jerald, 1993. "Stealing in the Name of Justice: Informational and Interpersonal Moderators of Theft Reactions to Underpayment Inequity," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 81-103, February.
    9. Francesca Gino & Lamar Pierce, 2010. "Lying to Level the Playing Field: Why People May Dishonestly Help or Hurt Others to Create Equity," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 89-103, September.
    10. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    11. Mehta, Judith & Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 1994. "The Nature of Salience: An Experimental Investigation of Pure Coordination Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 658-73, June.
    12. Alexandre Mas, 2006. "Pay, Reference Points, and Police Performance," NBER Working Papers 12202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Gneezy, Uri & Rockenbach, Bettina & Serra-Garcia, Marta, 2013. "Measuring lying aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 293-300.
    14. Blount, Sally & Bazerman, Max H., 1996. "The inconsistent evaluation of absolute versus comparative payoffs in labor supply and bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 227-240, August.
    15. Ambrose, Maureen L. & Seabright, Mark A. & Schminke, Marshall, 2002. "Sabotage in the workplace: The role of organizational injustice," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 947-965, September.
    16. Shalvi, Shaul & Dana, Jason & Handgraaf, Michel J.J. & De Dreu, Carsten K.W., 2011. "Justified ethicality: Observing desired counterfactuals modifies ethical perceptions and behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 181-190, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:123:y:2014:i:2:p:101-109. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.