Have you ever wondered what makes us lie or cheat? Is it in the hard wiring of those who chose to make up the truth rather than suffer the consequences of what the truth really is? I have often wondered about this issue. I can remember when I was in school wanting to cheat on a test and at the same time I was so afraid of being caught and humiliated that I abandoned any plan to do so. The humiliation of getting caught was far more costly to me than failing a test.
In a study by Duke Professor Dan Ariely and Harvard professors Francesca Gino and Michael Norton reveal answers to the questions about cheating. Ariely is the author of “Predictably Irrational and The Upside to Irrationality“—two of the best known books in the pop economics field.
In their “fake it till you make it” experiment they gave a group of women each a pair of Chloe sunglasses. They told half of the group that they were wearing knock offs and the other half that the sunglasses were the real deal. Of course all of the glasses were real. The women were given a series of puzzles and test to take while wearing the glasses. It was a self grading test in which the subjects were responsible for grading themselves. The women didn’t realize that the professors were observing them for honesty.
What was the result? Of the group of women that thought that they were wearing the real deal, only 30% cheated while grading their tests. Of the women that thought they were wearing fakes, 70% of them cheated.
So what does this mean? According to the study they found that because the women thought they were wearing fakes, they tended to internalize the feeling of being phony. Therefore they were more apt to cheat.