Everyone Cheats – At Least A Little

Subject: Psychology
Type: Argumentative Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 700
Topics: Motivation

It is in everyone’s nature to categorize other people as either dishonest or honest. Most people would however like to believe that the majority of individuals are virtuous, with just a few bad “tomatoes” blotting the bunch. In the event that this ideology was true, then it would be quite simple for society to solve its problems concerning dishonesty and cheating. For instance, cheaters could be screened by human-resources departments when being hired, dishonest building contractors or financial advisors could be quickly shunned and flagged as would cheaters in games and other fields be easily spotted prior to rising to their professional peaks. Sadly, dishonesty does not work in that manner (Mazar 1109). Numerous experiments using distinctive data set panoplies have been done for many years to discern why people cheat-from employment histories to insurance claims, to dentists’ and doctors’ treatment records (Ayal et al. 57). Most of the findings swayed to one criterion; that everyone has the propensity to be insincere and almost everyone cheats- just a little.

Apart from a few outliers at the bottom and top, almost everyone’s behavior has two opposing motivations that drive it. One part seeks to gain from cheating and attain as much glory and money as possible and the other part seeks to view oneself as an honorable and honest individual (Borchers 48). Regrettably, it is this form of mass cheating in small-scale and not the sophisticated cases that corrodes society the most. 

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While reflecting on the results from the experiments on why people cheat, questions abound on the manner in which the system presently attempts to keep individuals honest. In this regard, questions such as whether increased enforcement or heavy fines would act as better deterrents for individuals likely to make fraudulent insurance claims or evade taxes through cheating arise. Other questions such as deceitfully stealing from one’s company or recommending bum investments among other questions may also arise. These actions may probably have insignificant effects on an individual’s behavior, often being dismissed as negligible or being considered the “norm” because “everyone does it” (Hilbig & Thielmann 19). However, such a notion raises the big question of what pushes individuals towards greater honesty? 

The all too common tale about the man who finds his bike missing after leaving it outside a synagogue, portrays how our moral codes have a considerable effect on the manner in which we examine our own behavior (Maxwell 138). In the tale, the man seeks his rabbi’s advice on how to catch the thief and is advised to sit on the front row during the next service and study the others when they reached the point where they had to recite the Ten Commandments. The rabbi advises that the man should look to see the person who avoids looking at him direct in the eye when they reach the point where it says “Thou shall not steal.” Ultimately, several services later, the man reveals that he remembered where he had left his bike when they reached the point that says “Thou shall not commit adultery.”

In short, not so many people cheat to a maximal level. Still, numerous good individuals occasionally cheat in bits. Thus although it is apparently imperative to pay attention to brazen misbehavior, it is certainly more vital to discourage the minor and more omnipresent forms of dishonesty, which affects both the victim and the perpetrator. This is particularly true considering that most individuals are aware of cheating’s contagious nature and the manner in which small transgressions are able to lubricate psychological tendencies to create large unwanted outcomes.

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  1. Ayal, Shahar, and Yechiel Klar. “Detecting varieties of cheating: How do people navigate between different cheating ploys?.” Thinking & Reasoning vol 20 no.1 (2014): 51-76.
  2. Borchers, Julie L. “The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, How We Lie to Everyone-Especially Ourselves.” (2017): 48.
  3. Hilbig, Benjamin E., and Isabel Thielmann. “Does everyone have a price? On the role of payoff magnitude for ethical decision making.” Cognition vol 163 (2017): 15-25.
  4. Maxwell, Bruce. “Thinking, fast and slow.” Journal of Moral Education vol 43 no .1 (2014): 136-141.
  5. Mazar, Nina, and Dan Ariely. “Dishonesty in scientific research.” The Journal of clinical investigation vol 125.no 11 (2015): 3993.                                    
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