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Why Winners Become Cheaters ( 174

JoeyRox writes: A new study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reveals a paradoxical aspect of human behavior — people who win in competitive situations are more likely to cheat in the future. In one experiment, 86 students were split up into pairs and competed in a game where cheating was impossible. The students were then rearranged into new pairs to play a second game where cheating was possible. The result? Students who won the first game were much more likely to cheat at the second game. Additional experiments indicated that cheating was also more likely if students simply recalled a memory of winning in the past. The experiments further demonstrated that subsequent cheating was more likely in situations where the outcome of previous competitions was determined by merit rather than luck.
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Why Winners Become Cheaters

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  • Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:49AM (#51485113)
    That makes sense to me. If you win something based on merit it becomes part of your identity. "I'm a fast runner" or "I'm good at math." That will put you under pressure (internal and external) to make sure it happens.
    • True but going by that logic , "he cheated and was disqualified" would be far more disastrous than "he lost this time"
      • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:17AM (#51485221)
        Yes, but I doubt many cheaters expect to get caught.
        • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @09:45AM (#51486405)
          People are just horrible at fully imagining all of the negative consequences of their actions. We tend to have an optimistic view and tunnel in on how greats things will be when everything goes according to plan instead of thinking about all of the ways our plans might fail. It's a large part of the reason why things are rarely done on time [] or within budget.
          • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @10:02AM (#51486489) Homepage

            This sounds like why there are also so many bugs in software. I find that the more I learn about software development, the more difficult everything becomes. Once you start thinking about all the edge cases, and how many ways there are for something to break, every project becomes more difficult. Designing software is like designing a bridge, except you have to worry about how your bridge performs when people decide drive over it backwards. Somehow it will end up being the designer's fault when something goes terribly wrong. If I could just design a web application without worrying about how people are going to try to find security holes and steal all the data I would be a happy man. Does the guy who designs bridges have to make considerations to ensure it can't be attacked by terrorists?

            • Add to that the tendency for developers to adopt the attitude of "oh, it breaks when you do that? well then just don't do that!" because they only see the good things in their software and know, first hand, how hard it was to get that thing to work.

            • Does the guy who designs bridges have to make considerations to ensure it can't be attacked by terrorists?

              depends what the lawyers say

            • "This sounds like why there are also so many bugs in software. I find that the more I learn about software development, the more difficult everything becomes."

              Related, but not exactly that.

              Our mind tends to look for goals and then focus on the goals as is a great way to have things done (reaching food, escaping from a predator, mating...).

              When this tendency is applied to software you have developers focusing in the happy path for the requested feature (the goal) thinking they'll come back to the petty detai

            • You need to worry as much as you're paid to worry.

              That is something you need to learn in software or you will just drive yourself insane. We tend to take on a million and one roles from build specialist, security researcher, database admin, performance engineer...

              Yes, many of us have the talent to be good in any one of those roles and many of us have a reasonable grasp of any of those other roles, but unless you're being paid for all those roles,you have to detach yourself somewhat.

            • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

              Does the guy who designs bridges have to make considerations to ensure it can't be attacked by terrorists?

              In some cases, yes.

              However, just as in bridge building, in software, there are certain processes or standards you follow, and you do your due diligence. You're not going to get every bug or hole. What you have fixed ahead of time keeps away the easy compromises, and then you have to be vigilant to make sure more focused attacks don't work on you.

              It's risk management. If your bridge is a well known modern Wonder of the World, you're probably looking out for active terrorist attacks on it. If it's a minor

            • You think its bad with software? Engineering physical things like bridges is way more difficult.

              There are design considerations for materials. Materials are going to have defects, you can try to specify tolerances and specs but physical things will always vary. Decay over time, corrosion, external factors such as acidic birdshit, chlorides in saltwater spray, pollution eating away at things, acid rain, etc.

              You need to expect earthquakes, lightning strikes, heavy wind, bigrig collisions, tanker ships ramm
          • The worse part of it is that even when some people *do* take into account the ways things may fail, often times others (i.e., management) do not want to hear any of it and force adherence to the overly-optimistic plan.
          • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

            by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @10:37AM (#51486689) Homepage

            Ah, but that is in our current world of consequences. Example, a friend is a teacher. Recently, a girl pulled a knife on another girl and threatened to slice her neck. Punishment = 2 day suspension. He jokingly said if she would have killed her that would have up'ed it to a 4 day suspension. So when I was in school, knife = expulsion. Another example, a pregnant girl disappeared when I was in school and may or may not have returned due to shame. Now, again, my friend is a teacher and I could not believe it, but now, the class will often go en mass to the hospital after delivery to have a party for the young mother. Oh, and of course child care at the school. So we went from shame to be a pregnant high school girl to lets have a party, and I have my badge of honor. Guess what, more high school moms. Who would have thought?

            • by Megol ( 3135005 )

              So if I read you correctly you prefer the "good-old times" when getting pregnant out of wedlock meant a lifetime of shame?
              And your other example looks like an exceptional event, in most cases something like would lead to long time suspension, most likely expulsion and entry into the criminal or social services.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                So if I read you correctly you prefer the "good-old times" when getting pregnant out of wedlock meant a lifetime of shame?

                It still means that. These people are kidding themselves and attempting to build a safespace where they can live perpetually in denial.

              • Not an exceptional event at all. Actually quite common. The school has an officer on site who is also threatened frequently, along with teachers. Been to a high risk school lately? It is never the kids fault!

                And yes, if there are no consequences to actions, then why would anyone obey the rules. So yes, while unfortunate the "one" pregnant girl will likely fail in my model, I'm not so sure she will succeed in yours either. After high school exactly what are the odds of a single mother succeeding in today's w

          • by phorm ( 591458 )

            As a society, we also seem to look down on people who take the more caution point of view, calling them "negative" or "not team players" when they don't agree with others' overly-optimistic timelines or outcomes.

        • by ebvwfbw ( 864834 )

          Nope. I can remember my Nephew being caught by my Mother cheating. Not cool being caught cheating by grandma.

      • If you are facing two options "definitely losing" or "losing if getting caught" then the second probably seems more dersirable.

        They should have done another game where they made the second game harder and harder and then seen if cheating was more likely.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @09:30AM (#51486337)

        You think that's a downer? Imagine what "I cheated and STILL lost" could do to your ego.

        • by dkman ( 863999 )
          Well if I was going to lose anyway... no biggie.

          Sadly that's how things are going.
      • It is true, but you are expecting a rational train of thought from a person. Being that their self identity is being challenged, they will have more of an instinctual instinct then a well planned thought and consequence.

        Besides if you can rationalize it away such as everyone else is doing it ("they cheating too") so by cheating they are keeping the environment equal.

        But even in less game method, when our self identity is threatened we will lash out and fight for it. Say you are a programmer and one of tho

        • Say you are a programmer and one of those "Rock Star" Programmers always the one being called when things get tough and you have an answer. Then a new guy comes who knows some newer technology, which can solve your problems that you fix better. How quick will you discredit the technology, pointing out any flaw in the system as the key reason why it is obviously inferior. Vs. the more rational thing, of actually taking time to learn and embrace the technology and adding it to your tool box of tools, that ca

      • Winners tend to win because they take more chances. Playing it safe, means you are going to be in the middle of the pack. But if you take your chances you can win big or lose big, People who have this attitude can see cheating as taking one of those risks.

    • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

      That's nice, but the real question is why do losers take that shit?

      • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @10:42AM (#51486725)

        Because if cheating is done right, it is hard to proove. Most competitions allow a degree of "Failure" in the game. So if you are running a race, while you are not suppose to come in contact with the person you are racing with. However most judges will not be hardass enough to discredit an accidental hit. However if you are going to cheat, you may "Accidentally" hit your biggest threat just to get him off his stride.

        Now this is cheating, however it is hard to prove.
        That and sportsmanship lesson one, was to publically not be a sore loser. So saying he cheated is often the call of a sore loser.

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:45AM (#51485743) Homepage
      It is more complicated than that. It's not "I'm a fast runner", that seems to trigger the cheating. It's the "I'm a faster runner than others". In the article at the Washington Post, there is a description of the experimental set-up. Games that are a battle against yourself (like a trivia game or playing the lottery) don't let people cheat afterwards. Games that are a battle against an opponent do.

      It seems the experience of winning against someone else which causes you to feel entitled and to cheat the next time to ensure your next win. And then you get into a spiral of cheating, winning, cheating, winning etc.pp., we know so well from professional sports or successful businessmen with shady ethics.

      • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @07:20AM (#51485943) Homepage Journal
        This is how politicians seem to work. It's how big businesses seem to work. This research may be very important in the long run.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          It's important, but it's also rather depressing. Competition is the premise upon which the entirety of US society is built upon, and the study suggests that it inexorably leads to rigged results in favor of the few on top. The current state of the country supports this, but it's sad to think that this is not a flaw of the system, but rather an inevitable conclusion from it.
          • Yes, which is why we need regulation for business and transparency for government. Neither party is particularly great at this, but one is openly opposed.
      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        I don't think its about entitlement, but competition and increasing value of loss.

        The more you win, the more reputation you feel you have as a winner, the more you stand to lose if you don't win. The only thing that makes you a winner is one thing...that you win. Losing the game is a much greater loss than winning is a win.

        I have seen some other studies where it was found you could greatly influence people's answer to a question simply by phrasing the same data either in terms of loss or gain. The constant

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

          I sort of agree with that sentiment. I like to play games, and I'm pretty good at them, enough to have a reputation as someone who wins often. This makes me feel good, because I was able to win a lot of games on merit, and so I'm a "winner".

          There are times, however, that I see someone beating me, and I'm thinking, "that guy can't beat me!" Now, I don't actually cheat, because I do have the attitude that playing with others is more important for the social interaction aspect, as well as maintaining an act

          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            Yup, and in another way...cheating itself seems like it could become a game.

            This, I definitely experienced first hand. I used to hate a "game" called the "lighter game". It plays out amongst pot smokers where, people smoke tohether, and try to keep the other person's lighter. Many people who do this develop rules over time and it ends up becoming a game...a game of actual theft.

            I hated it, then one day my cousin bragged about how he steals lighters, so I resolved to go home at the end of the weekend with as

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @06:13AM (#51485815)

      Or, to put it another way, winning can be addictive. That makes very good sense.

    • If you win something based on merit, it proves you are capable of winning without cheating, so cheating just makes what's already proven easier.

      We build this mindset into people by saying they can't use a calculator to solve math problems unless they can do them longhand, as though the two are equivalent.

      It's taking the escalator versus taking the stairs, they don't need to prove you can take the stairs, they've already done it, so taking the escalator is (in the cheater's mindset) equivalent, not something

      • they don't need to prove THEY can take the stairs

        Incomplete conversion, two point slashball penalty. Possession goes to the responder.

      • Yes but winning - particularly in sporting events - is generally a result of conditioning, training, and practice. You can win once, but if you don't continue that level of commitment, or if someone else puts in even more work, you can still lose.

        Heck even with the same level of commitment from all sometimes you just age out of competitiveness. Assuming equal levels of work, you won't be as physically capable at 30 as compared to 25. In some sports and activities extra experience gained can balance out t

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      For example, Mister "live strong" himself.... []

      In fact if you look at every single "super athlete" you will find all of them cheated to keep up appearances.

    • Yep, that has been my experience. When I was in high school, in an accelerated/advanced science/math program, most of the kids were cheating on their lab reports. I had one teacher, in biochemistry, who really taught me the value of personal integrity. Most kids that was lost on, unfortunately. Surprisingly enough that lesson is what taught me to rely and adhere to principles, rather than doing whatever it takes to get ahead - I may not be rich, but I'm happy with who I am as a person.

      Perhaps not coincident

    • It may simply be that different people are differently motivated to win. For example, if someone were offered $1 million if they win, but their opponent were offered only $1, I'd expect the one with the higher stake to both be more likely to win by skill or effort, and be more likely to cheat to win. This should be even more so if the more motivated person has been allowed more time to practice -- like perhaps a lifetime of really liking to win. Other people might only play for fun (teammates in highly comp

  • by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:55AM (#51485135)
    If you get really good at something, or have a lot of success, you are proud of yourself and define yourself for it. When faced with losing, you're much more motivated to cheat to win because it's more important to you than it would be if you had lost and presumed that it's not your thing, hence not caring nearly as much about it.
    • by unrtst ( 777550 )

      We may be reading into this too much.
      Maybe those who win more often are simply better at finding ways to achieve the goal of winning - including cheating. Something like taking a shortcut through a maze where a small corner is left open. If it's possible to cheat, maybe the game was designed with that in mind (ex. bluffing in poker, or bidding in spades, etc).

      • Re:Well yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:48AM (#51485651) Homepage Journal

        I agree with this.
        Winning one-on-one competitions is an individual skill. So is cheating. Following rules is a cooperative or social skill.
        As a hunter, cheating is a valuable skill. It doesn't matter whether you catch the game by being better, or by cheating, e.g. with a snare. When you and the other hunter aren't going to share, i.e. it's a competition, what matters is that you win. Preferably every time. If your competitor's family starves, that's a win for your offspring.

        If hunting together, the situation becomes different. Team sports may yield different results.

        Also - what is the consequence of being caught? I would think that winners of any game that requires thinking would favor those with a rational mind. Who would also be the ones to factor in the cost of getting caught. If that is zero, well, what is the advantage to not cheating?

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:59AM (#51485161) Journal

    Winning is a natural high, right? People steal to get high. Why not cheat?

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @01:59AM (#51485163)

    Like a whole bunch of psychological studies, it only applies to college students who incur no costs.

    • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:15AM (#51485211)

      Like many psychological studies, I'd like to see the results replicated in different countries and different settings.

    • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @04:39AM (#51485613)
      This paper is a clear candidate for reporting bias.

      Reporting bias occurs when the opposite result isn't ever reported. So you either see an article or you don't. If you see the article, that's because the result was "surprising". If you don't see the article, that's because it wasn't "interesting".

      Trouble is, every possible result, no matter how "surprising", can occur just by chance if you do enough experiments, even if the truth isn't "interesting". Statistics works like that.

      So if you keep doing all sorts of different experiments until you find one that randomly happens to look "surprising", then publish it, but never talk about all the other experimental ideas that didn't pan out, you've got yourself a case of reporting bias.

      Ask yourself this: what legitimate scientific question is being answered here, and what journal and media outlets are likely to publish the opposite finding?

  • Bernie Madoff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:11AM (#51485191)
    From what I read Bernie Madoff had a compulsion for consistency. When he played golf (and he was pretty good) he would apparently turn in an 80 every time. So I suspect that the vagaries of the market just went against his grain. This then begs the question. Did he run a Ponzi scheme because he was a crook, or did he pretty much have the wrong compulsion for the wrong industry.

    I am pretty sure that I see this in other areas. For instance I was at an industrial company some years ago where an IT guy cut himself on the inside of a computer to the point where it may or may not have needed stitches. The company people freaked out. They were hinting that they would even bribe him not to report it. This got my curiosity going thinking that this injury would cause their worker's compensation rates to go up, or that it would spawn some kind of outsized investigation, but then a secratary said something like, "No, Dougie is obsessed with the fact that it has been 400 days accident free." I asked if that were true and she said it wasn't and that now for any minor injury he would hand out a week's vacation to not report it. So there was a huge sign that said 400 days accident free and everyone knew it was a lie except for Dougie's superiors.

    So like most things in life I suspect that most people lie somewhere on a spectrum ranging from, "I couldn't give a shit about cheating, to, look at me the most consistent winner in the universe."

    So while Madoff might have been scared that a bad report would result in fewer sales and higher redemptions, it was probably a situation where he would feel that he had somehow personally failed if he were to have to say that this year was 11% instead of 12%.
    • Madoff is a crook. It doesn't matter what his motivation was, he didn't have a moral compass pointing north. You're wasting your time trying to explain his crimes.
      • Re:Bernie Madoff (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @05:50AM (#51485753)
        To understand the why can improve detection and prevention. A different ponzi scheme from the same time frame, Stanford, smells more like old fashioned greed. I have talked with Enron people and they told me that there was this insane culture of WIN. Apparently a huge amount of time was spent doing sporty things that were competitive. They both were driven to compete at all levels, but also hired and promoted people who were driven to win. So while greed and broken moral compasses were at work there, they were pushed to take risks so that they could be winners. Risks as in things with prison as a penalty, not just financial risks.

        So detecting and preventing Madoff, Stanford, and Enron from both the perspective of regulators and investors it is good to understand the stories behind these goons.

        This is why I love science articles like the above. They both help shape my world view and can confirm/refute some observations that I have made.

        For instance an interesting one that I have seen is when people have regular access to insider information and make many successful trades, they tend to delude themselves into thinking that they are great traders. Then when the inside information supply dries up they often continue to trade with the same apparent reckless abandon that was previously supported by ill-gotten information. The consequences are pretty straightforward.
      • Madoff is a crook. It doesn't matter what his motivation was, he didn't have a moral compass pointing north. You're wasting your time trying to explain his crimes.

        It seems to me that invocation of the "moral compass" rather tends to extinguish debate than to cast any light. The phrase carries with it a whole mass of assumptions, some of them very questionable. To name just one, a normal compass always points North (more or less). So the term "moral compass" strongly suggests that people have an inbuilt moral sense that always, unvaryingly, points in the same direction - regardless of time, place, culture, circumstances, etc. That is simply not the case.

        Moreover, to s

        • Too many still have a cartoon version of morality, with the top-hatted, moustache-twirling villain. They focus on punishing evildoers, rather than prevention and rehabilitation. Maybe that's why we have so many people in prison.
        • More like a moral compass pointing inward. Very few people have any interest in doing anything evil, so evil tends to come from people who don't care about consequences to others, or people who think they're doing good. I suspect that, in many of the latter cases, people are distorting what they think good for their own selfish purposes.

          (I'm not saying that selfish purposes are necessarily evil, or unselfish purposes necessarily good, but if I had to bet on any given unspecified case, I'd bet on the un

      • Your lack of curiosity is depressing. I'd suggest keeping it to yourself unless you have some reason to make people feel sorry for you.

        Trying to understand how things work is a very basic human urge. Trying to understand criminals is especially fascinating for many people. What possible reason could you have for trying to belittle and discourage this?
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I'm thinking the explanation was simpler, like he experienced some initial success, overestimated his ability and began to lose money, decided to fake some financial records and found he could get away with it. Once you start a ponzi, it's very difficult to get out of it. So Madoff just kept going.

      • That one was my initial thinking. Since then I have heard all kinds of stories about how he craved consistency. My thinking is that your theory is how it started but that his obsession with consistency is what made him different than the many traders who bite the bullet and send out statements that say, "You lost money this time around."
        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I guess I haven't followed it closely enough or Madoff hasn't talked enough but I don't have a sense of how apologetic, defiant, or what his personal reaction to getting caught was.

          Without thinking about it for more than 5 minutes, my gut reaction is a guy who does something like that because he craves consistency and has to have it his way isn't going to come off feeling guilty or apologetic, he's actually probably proud of how he managed to keep it consistent in spite of the fact that he was running a bil

          • It doesn't matter what he claimed after the fact as he's clearly a pathological liar. It was more than a billion dollar Ponzi as well,
  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:27AM (#51485239) Homepage

    Remember: "Priming studies" (like here: being reminded of prior winning makes you more like to cheat) are notorious for showing anything under the sun and then failing to be reproducible later.

    Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman called priming studies the "poster child for doubts about the integrity of psychological research": []

    In the Many Labs Replication Project, the two "priming studies" landed at the very bottom, showing no evidence of any real effect in the replication trials: []

    • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @07:11AM (#51485927)
      Are you saying the fact that the two games were run sequentially is itself priming the outcome of the second game? Or are you referring specifically to the other experiment where students were asked to think about a past winning experience?

      The question the experiment was designed to answer was "Are winner's of previous competitions more likely to cheat in subsequent competitions?". How can a controlled study be conducted to answer this question unless the subjects are subjected to winning (and losing)? And if this cheating inclination does occur outside the confines of this experiment what's different in the real world vs the experiment? The period of time that elapses between winning one competition and competing in another?
      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        It's certainly not a perfect control, but it would be interesting if they ran the tests in the reverse order.

        If in that "control" there was no correlation between the people who cheated in the first round and those who won in the second round, particularly if the amount of cheating in the "control" was less than the non-control, you could make an argument that winning in the first round of the non-control was what caused the increase in cheating of the second round of the non-control.

        For that matter it
  • Intelligence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xenna ( 37238 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:28AM (#51485243)

    Perhaps it's just a matter of intelligence. The first game was won by the smart players. In the second game the smart ones saw the cheating opportunity and took it (perhaps even correctly deducig that that was the point of the experiment).

    The stupid players saw no opportunity and no point.

    So the experiment is interesting but the conclusions could be all wrong,..

  • It makes sense that they would cheat to enable them to continue to do so, even if their first win was on the up and up. Public expectations is a horrible force, and the price of them losing is much worse than the price of cheating.

  • by no-body ( 127863 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @02:42AM (#51485283)

    for corruption and crime happening in the "more successful" layers in a population.

    Since it's a trait, hard to come by, isn't it?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Another explanation for cheating at the higher levels is that it's worth it.
      Risk vs. reward and all that.

  • Even if you are within of breadth of taking the ultimate prize, the reward for coming in second in any winner takes all system is nothing.

  • by Nabeel_co ( 1045054 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @03:09AM (#51485351) Homepage

    I can say that I've noticed this desire in myself, although never acted on it... But in games where I know I have a skill advantage, and have won before, the temptation to cheat, as a short cut measure, becomes strong. The mentality is one of "well, I know I'm capable of getting to that point, so is it really cheating if I just skip to that part?" Yes, yes it is. And I have to remind myself of that each. freaking. time.

    I thought It was just me, but it turns out to be human nature I guess?

    • Human are apex predators. In nature, "cheating" doesn't exist as it's a moral construct. But for the last part of our relatively long evolutionary period, we've found strength in numbers. We've become civilized. We understand game theory. In that, cheating has caustic social consequences in the long term that we've as a society have shunned.

  • How do I reeeeeeeach these kiiiiiiiiiiiiids?
  • cause or effect? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They should have made also an experiment changing the order. That is, play the game where palyers can cheat, first, and the game where they can't cheat, second.

    Maybe the results would be "The ones who cheat in the first game also win in the second game where cheating is impossible".

    My theory is that skillful persons find ways to win playing by the rules, where cheating is just rules with certain risk–benefit ratio. They will find out all the rules, legal and cheating, and the best way to use both.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seriously, why is this story posted without a link?
  • The brain uses a complex risk/reward/loss model to figure out whether to cheat. When reaping the benefits of a previous victory, those rewards now go in the model in the loss column as well as the rewards column. Because of people's tendency to loss aversion the model gets skewed towards cheating more so than for people that only have the benefits in the rewards category of the model
  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @07:50AM (#51485999)

    So some students with nothing to lose and no real life consequences decided to cheat in a study?

    Maybe the first batch were clever enough to win that particular game and as they have already won (nothing) got bored and chose an alternative while those that lost still pursued a valid way to win?

    It may be worth noting that people eventually graduate or leave college (or are expelled) and grow up eg. mature. Maybe less mature individuals are more likely to more??

    I too conduct a test. In the first phase I gave slashdot readers a grade study to dissect. Those who dissected the study in the first phase were more likely to make toilet paper out of it in the second stage. Headline: this study shows that slashdot readers are more likely to steal and vandalise because they cannot afford toilet paper.

    My conclusion? this just proves that low grade studies are first read and in the second stage transformed to being useful in the form of toilet paper. Maybe that means I'm a winner?!
  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @07:54AM (#51486007)
    "Why Winners Become Cheaters" - well, because losers say so? Because losers hate the thought some can actually get ahead based on merit, knowledge and/or perseverence? Ehh.

    Cheating cmes from several sources: one can't perform any other way (it happens, some barriers have a certain height for a reason); one thinks it's the easiest way (but has several drawbacks and risks that most cheaters don't always realize); one is so much afraid of failure that sees cheating the only certain way to succeed (which if of course bull, but it's a legitimate vause of cheating).

    But trying to prove that winners will eventually turn into cheaters, because they're winners, well, that's just so sad it's beyond pityful.
    • Careful, please. Yes, this study needs to be replicated by other researchers before it can be really acted upon. But rejecting a scientific finding ONLY on the grounds that you don't like the answer is also sad. You plausibly note other sources of cheating. Those should be investigated and ruled out as causes. But if indeed winning does encourage cheating, it is not sad at all to demonstrate that and make people aware of it. That's how we become better aware of our own natures.
  • This is the most succinct explanation of NCCA revenue sports I've seen.

    For those that don't follow them, they are collegiate money-printing machines where cheaters do prosper (the big names never change much for this reason), the punishments are tepid, and you only pay the workers with the monopoly money of a 'degree' in... something (the -ahem- minority of those that actually graduate, that is).
    • Perhaps the most amazing thing the NCAA has managed to pull off is to get people to think that it's actually immoral for the people out there doing the work and taking the risks to be paid.

  • Great, another small sample size college student behavior result. I would take this, and any other such study, with a large grain of dead sea salt.
  • I play mainly in God mode. People call it cheating. I am not cheating I am winning.

  • This does not exist in nature.

    Survival of the fittest and all.

    Say an animal mutates a gene that gives it 2x the strength that is normally present in it's species. Thus it wins all combats against rivals for mating rights and spreads it's genes (and eventually it's strength becomes the baseline in the species). Nature does not turn around and say "hey wait no fair, you cheated...." and bans it from reproducing.

    How about this example: Say a stone age humanoid stumbles across 2 devices; 1 is some sort of super

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      This does not exist in nature.

      Actually, it does to an extent. In species that live in social groups. Cheating (stealing food, for example) will eventually get the misbehaving individual thrown out. It's about establishing and maintaining trust within that group. But here's the problem with university research experiments: There is no permanent social group. A bunch of strangers are brought together for the study. But when they leave, they will likely not interact in the future. So who cares what they think of each other? This is probabl

  • Interesting.

    Some of us eschew most forms of competition ... I don't care if you can run faster or jump higher ... I don't want to play your silly game if it's about that.

    Someone who wants to show he's better at something is kind of a boor. I really don't care if you can hit a golf ball further, but if you shoot lower than I do and have fun, I don't need to care.

    I wonder if this is why things like Eurogames [] are popular ... it's not competitive and cut-throat, it's co-operative. There is no incentive to che

    • So what you're saying is you guys are 'better than' us because you cooperate?

      History disagrees BTW. Count the megadeaths. Europeans trust their governments too much. Too much cooperation.

    • You can steal resource cards from other players in Catan. Not sure how cooperative that is.
    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      In a perfect world, sure we'd all cooperate to achieve our Utopian goals. But in every group project I've seen, some people excel, or work hard, and some people expect to just let other lead, or do all the work. Competition, as long as it's not at the expense of others, as in your Monopoly example, doesn't have to be a negative, and in fact drives progress with incentives. But, you do have to control monopolistic behavior, which is something the U.S. has gotten away from since breaking up AT&T, and g

    • I think role-playing games are better examples of cooperation being rewarded. The time before last my players had to save the world, it was wonderful to sit where I was and watch them come up with excellent plans and to improvise constructively as they carried them out. (They didn't work as well together the next time, but still came up with a better solution than I had.)

  • How about a link? There's no indication of the methodology, conclusions, etc. If the title is the conclusion, how did they determine that these individuals were not already cheaters? Is it because people who are more competitive tend to cheat more?

    Thanks for the click bait /.

  • Very ironic that an Israeli University would do a study that would suggest that Israel would be likely to ignore International Law.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday February 11, 2016 @12:54PM (#51487609) Journal

    Once you realize that the arbitrary rules imposed on many compettive endeavors are placed there by people with certain skills in order to make sure people with those skills succeed (that is, to keep themselves on top), "cheating" becomes only natural.

    Furthermore, if you look around and discover that everyone who is winning is cheating, you might consider that the rules aren't meant to be followed; rather, they are intended to weed out the chumps who follow the rules (as well as those who lack the skill to avoid being caught).

  • It seems to correlate with what I see in everyday life, especially at work.
    Some people, especially higher management, seem to win more than others, even games they are not particularly skilled at. I think it is that they simply really want to win instead of just having fun, or, in the case of work, find an interesting job with a good work-life balance.
    Cheating is very characteristic of this behavior. For non-winners, it spoils the fun and the negative of the risk of getting caught isn't enough to offset the

APL hackers do it in the quad.