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High stakes: a little more cheating, a lot less charity

Rahwan, Zoe, Hauser, Oliver P., Kochanowska, Ewa and Fasolo, Barbara (2018) High stakes: a little more cheating, a lot less charity. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 152. pp. 276-295. ISSN 0167-2681

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.04.021


We explore the downstream consequences of cheating–and resisting the temptation to cheat–at high stakes on pro-social behaviour and self-perceptions. In a large online sample, we replicate the seminal finding that cheating rates are largely insensitive to stake size, even at a 500-fold increase. We present two new findings. First, resisting the temptation to cheat at high stakes led to negative moral spill-over, triggering a moral license: participants who resisted cheating in the high stakes condition subsequently donated a smaller fraction of their earnings to charity. Second, participants who cheated maximally mispredicted their perceived morality: although such participants thought they were less prone to feeling immoral if they cheated, they ended up feeling more immoral a day after the cheating task than immediately afterwards. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings on moral balancing and self-deception, and the practical relevance for organisational design.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Management
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2018 13:28
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:39
Funders: Google

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