Cheater’s High

How do you feel when you cheat, but don’t think anyone is hurt? Chances are, you like it.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, most people don’t feel bad after cheating, and if we think that no one was hurt, we like the feeling of cheating—even if there was no reward but the feeling of cheating.

The study included more than 1,000 participants. In one test, they did math and logic problems on computers. Some participants had to answer a question and then click for the next problem, but some had a different button that allowed them to see the correct answer. They were told to disregard the button, but, of course, many didn’t, and the researchers could see who cheated. Incidentally, those who cheated felt better than those who chose not to and those who didn’t haven the opportunity.

In another test, participants had to untangle a series of anagrams, with the third being “unaagat”, which unscrambles to taguan, a species of flying squirrel. Solving this problem was considered highly unlikely, and participants were warned not to cheat because it would ruin the experiment, and yet half of them got the correct answer—and felt fine about it.

So, when it comes to the age-old question “Have you no shame?”, the answer is, clearly not.

Photo courtesy of Henry Spencer.

This is a test