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High stakes: A little more cheating, a lot less charity

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  • Rahwan, Zoe
  • Hauser, Oliver P.
  • Kochanowska, Ewa
  • Fasolo, Barbara

Abstract

We explore the downstream consequences of cheating–and resisting the temptation to cheat–at high stakes on pro-social behaviour and self-perceptions. In a large online sample, we replicate the seminal finding that cheating rates are largely insensitive to stake size, even at a 500-fold increase. We present two new findings. First, resisting the temptation to cheat at high stakes led to negative moral spill-over, triggering a moral license: participants who resisted cheating in the high stakes condition subsequently donated a smaller fraction of their earnings to charity. Second, participants who cheated maximally mispredicted their perceived morality: although such participants thought they were less prone to feeling immoral if they cheated, they ended up feeling more immoral a day after the cheating task than immediately afterwards. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings on moral balancing and self-deception, and the practical relevance for organisational design.

Suggested Citation

  • Rahwan, Zoe & Hauser, Oliver P. & Kochanowska, Ewa & Fasolo, Barbara, 2018. "High stakes: A little more cheating, a lot less charity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 276-295.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:152:y:2018:i:c:p:276-295
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.04.021
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    Cited by:

    1. Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva, 2021. "Conflicts of Interest Arising from Simultaneous Service by Editors of Competing Journals or Publishers," Publications, MDPI, vol. 9(1), pages 1-10, February.
    2. Aksoy, Billur & Palma, Marco A., 2019. "The effects of scarcity on cheating and in-group favoritism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 100-117.
    3. Andreas Lange & Claudia Schwirplies, 2021. "Bargaining With Charitable Promises: True Preferences and Strategic Behavior," CESifo Working Paper Series 9129, CESifo.
    4. Luka Koning & Marianne Junger & Joris Hoof, 2020. "Digital signatures: a tool to prevent and predict dishonesty?," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 19(2), pages 257-285, November.
    5. Bucciol, Alessandro & Cicognani, Simona & Montinari, Natalia, 2024. "It's time to cheat!," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
    6. Billur Aksoy & Marco A. Palma, "undated". "The Effects of Scarcity on Cheating and In-Group Favoritism," Working Papers 20180918-001, Texas A&M University, Department of Economics.
    7. Schild, Christoph & Heck, Daniel W. & Ścigała, Karolina A. & Zettler, Ingo, 2019. "Revisiting REVISE: (Re)Testing unique and combined effects of REminding, VIsibility, and SElf-engagement manipulations on cheating behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 75(PA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cheating; Incentives; Moral licensing; Moral self-perceptions; Pro-social behaviour;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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