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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Winning Leads To Cheating

How Winning Leads to Cheating

Researchers find that besting others in a competition predicts unethical conduct

Jordana Cepelewicz | February 2, 2016

We live, for better or for worse, in a competition-driven world. Rivalry powers our economy, sparks technological innovation and encourages academic discovery. But it also compels people to manipulate the system and commit crimes. Some figure it’s just easier—and even acceptable—to cheat.
But what if instead of examining how people behave in a competitive setting, we wanted to understand the consequences of competition on their everyday behavior? That is exactly what Amos Schurr, a business and management professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Ilana Ritov, a psychologist at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discuss in a study in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “How can it be,” Schurr asks, “that successful, distinguished people—take [former New York State Gov.] Eliot Spitzer, who I think was a true civil servant when he started out his career with good intentions—turn corrupt? At the same time, you have other successful people, like Mother Theresa, who don’t become corrupt. What distinguishes between these two types of successful people?”

The researchers found that after a competition is over, winners behave more dishonestly than losers in an unrelated subsequent task. Furthermore, the subsequent unethical behavior effect seems to depend on winning, rather than on mere success. [...]
“These findings suggest that the way in which people measure success affects their honesty. When success is measured by social comparison, as is the case when winning a competition, dishonesty increases,” Schurr explains. “When success does not involve social comparison, as is the case when meeting a set goal, defined standard or recalling a personal achievement, dishonesty decreases.”

<more at; related links: (How Winning Leads to Cheating. February 3, 2016) and (PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). Winning a competition predicts dishonest behavior. Amos Schurr and Ilana Ritov. Published online before print February 1, 2016, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1515102113 PNAS February 1, 2016. [Abstract: Winning a competition engenders subsequent unrelated unethical behavior. Five studies reveal that after a competition has taken place winners behave more dishonestly than competition losers. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that winning a competition increases the likelihood of winners to steal money from their counterparts in a subsequent unrelated task. Studies 3a and 3b demonstrate that the effect holds only when winning means performing better than others (i.e., determined in reference to others) but not when success is determined by chance or in reference to a personal goal. Finally, study 4 demonstrates that a possible mechanism underlying the effect is an enhanced sense of entitlement among competition winners.])>

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