Cheating to be popular amongst others

Posted on March 6, 2015

Photo: flickr

In the pursuit of being the popular kid along with your team-mates, would you sabotage your rivals, would you cheat?
Stefan Thau of INSEAD and his team investigated “pro-group” unethical behaviours. The participants in his experiment were given an easy chance to cheat at an anagram task, researchers were ble to track if the participants had truly solved the question or “cheated” as ten of the anagrams given .

The experiment gave participants an easy opportunity to cheat at an anagram task, as the setup meant they themselves reported how many they solved, with no way to be checked. (Conveniently, the experimenters had an easy way to verify whether success had been over-reported: the ten anagrams were entirely unsolvable.)
The researchers added a key condition which causes some of the participants believe that they were likely to be excluded in their team. So these individuals at risk of being excluded shown results of solving more of the unsolvable anagrams than their safe peers. In other words, they broke the rules, they cheated. Those who have a high “need to belong” showed an even higher cheating tendency.
In another condition where victory is a personal reward and not a team one. The fear of being excluded or need to belong does not had any effect on the tendency to cheat in this condition.
Imagine an officer who framed people to get higher rates of arrest for his team (colleagues), this showed how the need to support your in-group could hurt your organisation in the long term.

Category(s):Social Isolation

Source material from British Psychological Society