Cheating More for Less: Upward Social Comparisons Motivate the Poorly Compensated to Cheat

  title={Cheating More for Less: Upward Social Comparisons Motivate the Poorly Compensated to Cheat},
  author={Leslie K John and George Loewenstein and Scott Rick},
  journal={Behavioral \& Experimental Economics eJournal},
Intuitively, people should cheat more when cheating is more lucrative, but we find that the effect of performance-based pay-rates on dishonesty depends on how readily people can compare their pay-rate to that of others. In Experiment 1, participants were paid 5 cents or 25 cents per self-reported point in a trivia task, and half were aware that they could have received the alternative pay-rate. Lower pay-rates increased cheating when the prospect of a higher pay-rate was salient. Experiment 2… Expand
Institutional inequality and individual preferences for honesty and generosity
This paper reports on an experiment that investigates how inequality in advantage affects individual preferences for honesty and generosity. In a two-stage experiment, subjects first earn moneyExpand
The Wages of Dishonesty: The Supply of Cheating under High-Powered Incentives
We use a novel design to identify how dishonesty changes through a broad reward range that, at the high end, exceeds participants’ average daily wages. Using a sample of online Indian workers whoExpand
Lying to Be Fair
One of the main arguments people use for cheating is that others also do it. Cheating becomes a tool for establishing fairness when others cheat. Using different payoff schemes, we experimentallyExpand
Goal-Based Systems and Cheating: Decomposing the Role of Goal Targets, Social Comparison Framing and Financial Pay
These results emphasize that incentive systems such as those using goals are inherently complex, and research and incentive system design must carefully consider the underlying components of the system. Expand
Many faces of bankers' identity: how (not) to study dishonesty
The goal is to highlight the fact that the study of cultural norms on behavior using indirect methods often precludes us from making strong conclusions, because alternative explanations are plentiful and hard to rule out and how future studies can build on the CFM design and more reliably answer the question whether the social norm in banking really supports dishonesty. Expand
Inequitable Wages and Tax Evasion
In a two-stage, preregistered lab experiment, we examine whether wage inequity has a greater impact on tax compliance and on the beliefs about prevailing compliance norms among the wronged when itExpand
Bad Losers? Bad Winners? The (Adverse) Consequences of Competing Against Peers
Performance based rewards are increasingly popular to motivate workers. These rewards are often assigned on a regular basis, e.g., in annual salary negotiations or employee-of-the-month schemes. InExpand
Bad Losers? Bad Winners? The Effect of the Quality of Competitors on Dishonesty and Effort in Repeated Competitions
Competitive rewards are often assigned on a regular basis, e.g., in annual salary negotiations or employee-of-the-month schemes. In many settings, this implies that the quality of the competitorExpand
Losing sense of fairness: How information about a level playing field reduces selfish behavior
Abstract Inaccurate beliefs about procedural fairness often motivate people to act in self-serving and selfish manners. We investigate whether information about a level playing field might mitigateExpand
Lucky, Competent, or Just a Cheat? Interactive Effects of Honesty-Humility and Moral Cues on Cheating Behavior
This research found an interaction indicating that individuals high on Honesty-Humility consistently did not cheat much across situational primes, whereas individuals low onHonesty- Humility cheated more when exposed to immoral primes than when exposure to moral primes. Expand


Dishonesty in the Name of Equity
The results show that financial self-interest cannot fully explain people's tendency to dishonestly help or hurt others, rather, such dishonesty is influenced by emotional reactions to wealth-based inequity, even when the dishonesty bears a personal financial cost. Expand
Lying to Level the Playing Field: Why People May Dishonestly Help or Hurt Others to Create Equity
Unethical and dishonest behavior has increasingly attracted the attention of scholars from various disciplines. Recent work has begun to focus on a previous overlooked factor predicting dishonestExpand
Robin Hood Under the Hood: Wealth-Based Discrimination in Illicit Customer Help
The results suggest the presence of wealth-based discrimination in employee--customer relations and that envy toward wealthy customers and empathy toward those of similar economic status drive much of this illegal behavior. Expand
Internal standards revisited: Effects of social comparisons and expectancies on judgments of fairness and satisfaction
Abstract Two studies examined the effect of two comparison processes on perceptions of fairness and satisfaction. Rewards relative to others (social comparison) and relative to expectanciesExpand
Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction
Economists have long speculated that individuals care about both their absolute income and their income relative to others. We use a simple theoretical framework and a randomized manipulation ofExpand
The inconsistent evaluation of absolute versus comparative payoffs in labor supply and bargaining
Abstract We demonstrate an inconsistency in how people weight fairness concerns depending upon how preferences for outcomes are elicited. Specifically, we show that people are less concerned withExpand
Stealing in the Name of Justice: Informational and Interpersonal Moderators of Theft Reactions to Underpayment Inequity
Abstract In a laboratory study, 102 undergraduate students performed a clerical task for which they were either equitably paid or underpaid. The payment was explained using either high or low validExpand
Justified ethicality: Observing desired counterfactuals modifies ethical perceptions and behavior
Employing a die-under-cup paradigm, we study the extent to which people lie when it is transparently clear they cannot be caught. We asked participants to report the outcome of a private die roll andExpand
Commentaries and Rejoinder to “The Dishonesty of Honest People”
In their clever and insightful article, Mazar, Amir, and Ariely (2008) propose that people balance two competing desires when deciding whether to behave dishonestly: the motivation for personal gainExpand
Social Utility and Decision Making in Interpersonal Contexts
Three studies examined preferences for outcomes to self and a codisputant. Studies I and 2 estimated social utility functions from judgments of satisfaction with alternative outcomes. ComparingExpand