People who get away with cheating—when they suspect no one is hurt by their deception—are more likely to feel upbeat than remorseful afterwards, found a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
In experiments conducted among more than 1,000 participants, researchers found that people experienced a “cheater’s high” after engaging in duplicitous behaviour. These findings contradicted the predictions of participants themselves, who expected to feel guilty about their deceit.
In one of the experiments, participants tackled a series of math and logic problems using a computer. Some of them were given access to a “correct answer” button, which revealed the right response to any given question when clicked. Although they were asked to ignore the button, 68% of them used it during the test. Afterwards, those who clicked the button reported greater feelings of happiness than those who acted honestly.
In contrast to the findings above, researchers from the University of Notre Dame have recently linked honesty to greater physical and mental health.
Over the course of ten weeks, 110 participants in the “Science of Honesty” study completed weekly health and relationship measures, as well as weekly polygraph tests. Half of the participants were asked to stop lying, while the other half acted as a control group.
When participants told fewer lies, they reported improvements in their close personal relationships and social interactions. They also reported fewer physical and mental-health complaints, including sore throats, headaches, and feelings of tenseness or melancholy.
Even people who champion truthfulness often cheat and lie. In fact, research suggests that dishonesty plays a large role in our lives. It occurs relatively commonly:
Most of us have a hard time recognizing deceit, but some clues may help you ferret out frauds:
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