Why people think it's OK to cheat a little bit

I've been having a lot of fun writing for CreditBloggers. My most recent entry is about Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely's recent TED talk about his experiments to learn more about the psychology of cheating.

Ariely decided to conduct a series of experiments to understand cheating. He gave test subjects a math quiz with 20 problems, and promised to give a dollar for each correct answer. The problems weren't hard to solve, but Ariely imposed a five-minute time limit, making it impossible for anyone to complete the test. After five minutes, Ariely collected the test from the volunteers, scored them, and paid them for their correct answers. On average, volunters solved four questions correctly.

Next, he tempted people to cheat. He told a new group of test takers to score their own tests and tell Ariely how many questions they got correct. These volunteers reported, on average, that they solved seven questions. The interesting thing about this, says Ariely, was that the higher average wasn't because a few people cheated a lot; rather, it was because a lot of people cheated a little. Equally interesting was the fact that the amount of cheating didn't change when the reward for a correct question was increased or decreased; nor did it change when the chances of being caught cheating were increased or decreased.

Dan Ariely: Why people think it's OK to cheat a little bit

Here are my other posts:

Consumer Sentiment on the Rise (for now)

Afflicted with Allelomimesis — Why People Behave as if They're Broke When They're Not

Half-empty supermarket shelves act like consumer magnets

Bringing Your Kids to the Supermarket is Hazardous to Your Wallet

The Allure of the "Near-Miss"