- a scarf
- face makeup
- 3 pairs of clip on earings
- 5 vnecks (yikes)
- a tank top
- chai latte
- snapple green tea
Many people say they wouldn’t cheat on a test, lie on a job application or refuse to help a person in need. But what if the test answers fell into your lap and cheating didn’t require any work on your part? If you didn’t have to face the person who needed your help and refuse them? Would that change your behaviour?
New research out of the University of Toronto Scarborough shows it might. In two studies that tested participants’ willingness to behave immorally, the UTSC team discovered people will behave badly — if it doesn’t involve too much work on their part.
“People are more likely to cheat and make immoral decisions when their transgressions don’t involve an explicit action,” says Rimma Teper, PhD student and lead author on the study, published online now in Social Psychological and Personality Science. “If they can lie by omission, cheat without doing much legwork, or bypass a person’s request for help without expressly denying them, they are much more likely to do so.”
In one study, participants took a math test on a computer after being warned there were glitches in the system. One group was told if they pressed the space bar, the answer to the question would appear on the screen. The second group was told if they didn’t press the enter key within five seconds of seeing a question, the answer would appear.
“People in the second group — those who didn’t have to physically press a button to get the answers — were much more likely to cheat,” says Associate Psychology Professor Michael Inzlicht, second author on the study.