According to a new study, people think they’ll feel bad if they cheat, but actually end up feeling good about their dishonesty.
The research study, The Cheater’s High: The Unexpected Affective Benefits of Unethical Behavior was recently published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
People feel especially good about cheating when it's a small cheat that doesn't cause others serious harm.
According to The New York Times, the study's participants were given a word-unscrambling test and the right answers to check their answers. They were told to self-report how many they had gotten right.
The research study promised one dollar for every right answer.
The study showed that 41 percent of the participants cheated.
According to a follow-up check on their moods, most of the cheaters felt an emotional boost that the honest players didn’t.
In another test, participants were told that their results would define their intelligence and likelihood of future success.
About 68 percent of this group cheated at least once and also reported a rise in good feelings, which included self-satisfaction and superiority.
“We were a little appalled. Perhaps people could be made aware of the costs that others actually bear," lead researcher Dr. Nicole Ruedy told The New York Times.
Dr. Ruedy told CNN, "A lot of it has to do with the cleverness that people feel. The idea that they've figured out a way to cheat successfully gives them a sense of accomplishment. There is this immediate boost, but we don't know yet what the long term emotional response would be if people were to reflect on their behavior."
David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, said, "These findings struck me as surprising."
Callahan claims that cheaters say that "they often feel conflicted or not so great."