Our own dishonesty

By Shane Parrish via farnamstreetblog.com   Article

Dan Ariely on How and Why We Cheat

“In The Honest Truth, Ariely … digs into which situations make us more likely to cheat than others. … It’s a how-to guide on our own dishonesty.

  1. Cheating was standard, but only a little.  … A little cheating was everywhere. People generally did not grab all they could, but only as much as they could justify psychologically.
  2. Increasing the cheating reward or moderately altering the risk of being caught didn’t affect the outcomes much. In Ariely’s experience, the cheating stayed steady: A little bit of stretching every time.
  3. The more abstracted from the cheating we are, the more we cheat. … … being more willing to ‘tap’ a golf ball to improve its lie than actually pick it up and move it with our hands.
  4. A nudge not to cheat works better before we cheat than after. … we need to strengthen our morals just before we’re tempted to cheat, not after. …
  5. We think we’re more honest than everyone else. … consistently underestimated their own dishonesty versus others’. …
  6. We underestimate how blinded we can become to incentives. … incentives skew our judgment and our moral compass. …
  7. Related to (6), disclosure does not seem to decrease incentive-caused bias. This reminds me of Charlie Munger’s statement, “I think I’ve been in the top 5% of my age cohort all my life in understanding the power of incentives, and all my life I’ve underestimated it.” …
  8. We cheat more when our willpower is depleted. … Ariely found that when we’re tired and have exerted a lot of mental or physical energy, especially in resisting other temptations, we tend to increase our cheating. …
  9. We cheat ourselves, even if we have direct incentive not to. … even with a strong financial incentive to honestly assess our own abilities, we still think we cheat less than we do …
  10. Related to (9), we can delude ourselves into believing we were honest all along. This goes to show the degree to which we can damage ourselves by our cheating as much as others. …
  11. We cheat more when we believe the world ‘owes us one.’ … When we feel like we’ve been cheated or wronged ‘over here,’ we let the universe make it up to us ‘over there.’ (By cheating, of course.) …
  12. Unsurprisingly, cheating has a social contagion aspect. If we see someone who we identify with and whose group we feel we belong to cheating, it makes us (much) more likely to cheat. …
  13. Finally, nudging helps us cheat less. If we’re made more aware of our moral compass through specific types of reminders and nudges, we can decrease our own cheating.”



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