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Cheating more when the spoils are split

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  • Wiltermuth, Scott S.

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Wiltermuth, Scott S., 2011. "Cheating more when the spoils are split," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 157-168, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:115:y:2011:i:2:p:157-168
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin G. Kocher & Simeon Schudy & Lisa Spantig, 2016. "I Lie? We Lie! Why? Experimental Evidence on a Dishonesty Shift in Groups," CESifo Working Paper Series 6008, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Wiltermuth, Scott S. & Vincent, Lynne C. & Gino, Francesca, 2017. "Creativity in unethical behavior attenuates condemnation and breeds social contagion when transgressions seem to create little harm," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, pages 106-126.
    3. Djawadi, Behnud Mir & Fahr, René, 2015. "“…and they are really lying”: Clean evidence on the pervasiveness of cheating in professional contexts from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 48-59.
    4. Levine, Emma E. & Schweitzer, Maurice E., 2015. "Prosocial lies: When deception breeds trust," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, pages 88-106.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rilke, Rainer Michael & Walkowitz, Gari, 2013. "Lying and team incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 1-7.
    8. 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, pages 280-290.
    9. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rilke, Rainer Michael & Walkowitz, Gari, 2013. "Lying and team incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 1-7.
    10. Cadsby, C. Bram & Du, Ninghua & Song, Fei, 2016. "In-group favoritism and moral decision-making," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 59-71.
    11. Okeke, Edward N. & Godlonton, Susan, 2014. "Doing wrong to do right? Social preferences and dishonest behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 124-139.
    12. Mitkidis, Panagiotis & Ayal, Shahar & Shalvi, Shaul & Heimann, Katrin & Levy, Gabriel & Kyselo, Miriam & Wallot, Sebastian & Ariely, Dan & Roepstorff, Andreas, 2017. "The effects of extreme rituals on moral behavior: The performers-observers gap hypothesis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 1-7.
    13. Song, Fei & Zhong, Chen-Bo, 2015. "You scratch his back, he scratches mine and I’ll scratch yours: Deception in simultaneous cyclic networks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 98-111.
    14. Shalvi, Shaul & Leiser, David, 2013. "Moral firmness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 400-407.
    15. Hildreth, John Angus D. & Gino, Francesca & Bazerman, Max, 2016. "Blind loyalty? When group loyalty makes us see evil or engage in it," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, pages 16-36.
    16. Danilov, Anastasia & Biemann, Torsten & Kring, Thorn & Sliwka, Dirk, 2013. "The dark side of team incentives: Experimental evidence on advice quality from financial service professionals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 266-272.
    17. Clot, Sophie & Grolleau, Gilles & Ibanez, Lisette, 2014. "Smug Alert! Exploring self-licensing behavior in a cheating game," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 191-194.
    18. Gilles Grolleau & Martin G. Kocher & Angela Sutan, 2016. "Cheating and Loss Aversion: Do People Cheat More to Avoid a Loss?," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 3428-3438.
    19. Winterich, Karen Page & Mittal, Vikas & Morales, Andrea C., 2014. "Protect thyself: How affective self-protection increases self-interested, unethical behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, pages 151-161.

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