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Cheating more when the spoils are split

  • Wiltermuth, Scott S.
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    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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    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
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

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