Go on and cheat, you'll feel good afterwards
CHEATING provides a rush which outweighs the desire for financial gain or feelings of guilt, a study by British and American researchers found.
The research, presented at a conference in Boston yesterday, rejects the "assumption that unethical behaviour triggers negative affect".
"We demonstrate that unethical behaviour can trigger positive affect, which we term a 'cheater's high'," found the study.
"Individuals who cheat on problem-solving tasks consistently experience more positive affect than those who do not."
Researchers carried out a series of word and number tests which allowed participants to mark their own performance.
In one test 179 people were asked to solve anagrams and told they would be paid $1 for every one they solved. More than 40pc of people added to their sheets after seeing the answers.
Afterwards participants were asked a series of questions about their mood. It found that those who cheated reported being happier and more excited than those who had not cheated.
On one test, the researchers removed the financial incentive and found that a similar number of people still cheated, suggesting it was the psychological rush, rather than the money, which was a motivating factor.
The paper's authors said the findings were "worrying".
Celia Moore, of the London Business School, said the results were "dispiriting" but cheating was much less likely when it may harm an individual. (© Daily Telegraph, London)