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Sep 062013

A research study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24000799 showed that people who cheat receive a positive, not negative, reinforcement that we might call “duping delight.” This study was cited in Time Magazine  which says in part:

It turns out, however, that all of us may get a little boost when we cheat, and researchers showed for the first time that, although people think they’ll feel guilty after doing something dishonest or unethical, they actually enjoy a lift in mood instead.
“A lot of it has to do with the cleverness that people feel,” says the study’s lead author Nicole Ruedy, a postdoc at the University of Washington, “The idea that they’ve figured out a way to cheat successfully gives them a sense of accomplishment.”
That contradicts previous data that suggests that dishonest actions and intentionally deceiving others makes people feel guilty and worse about themselves. “These findings struck me as surprising,” says David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture:  Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, who was not associated with the research.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/06/cheaters-high-why-not-playing-fair-feels-so-good/#ixzz2e8lPFv00

Another study cited in Time Magazine shows that wealthy people are more likely to cheat than poor people.

While stereotypes suggest that poor people are more likely to lie and steal, new research finds that it’s actually the wealthy who tend to behave unethically. In a series of experiments — involving everything from dangerous driving to lying in job negotiations and cheating to get a prize — researchers found that, across the board, richer people behaved worse. But, rather than class itself, the authors suggest that it’s views about greed that may largely explain the difference.
In the first two experiments, University of California, Berkeley, psychologists positioned observers at San Francisco intersections to watch for drivers who didn’t wait their turn at lights or yield for pedestrians. The researchers noted the make, age and appearance of cars — a marker for the drivers’ socioeconomic status — as well as the drivers’ gender and approximate age.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/28/why-the-rich-are-less-ethical-they-see-greed-as-good/#ixzz2e8lwEJfW

Dr. Ekman, the “lie expert,” defines duping delight as: “duping delight, the near irresistible thrill some people feel in taking a risk and getting away with it. Sometimes it includes contempt for the target who is being so ruthlessly and successfully exploited. It is hard to contain duping delight; those who feel it want to share their accomplishments with others, seeking admiration for their exploits.”

In noticing the duping delight in my own son Patrick, it seems that he is compelled to share his success with others in order to make it “real” it seems. His bragging about his crimes is what has gotten him caught almost every time. Even the murder he committed he had to brag about before the fact and after the fact as well. Where if he had kept his mouth shut and not told anyone,  he very well may have gotten away with killing Jessica. Why would he do such a dumb thing? The need for adoration from others at what a smart, brave, fearless person he was. It doesn’t make sense to me really, though I have observed  it in him time after time. He, like many psychopaths, never seems to learn from his bad choices. He repeats them over and over, bragging even in writing, to his felonies and misdemeanors. You’d think a man with an IQ in the 99th percentile would figure out he needed to keep his mouth shut, but somehow the need for the audience and adoration of other low lifes takes precedence over all.

Research has also shown that thoughts of revenge actually give our brains a shot of “feel good chemicals” when we think about revenging ourselves on someone who has hurt us. Of course, long term, the desire for vengeance, even though it is “natural” and “biological” is not good for our emotional health and we need to get rid of that desire or it will eat us like a cancer.

Just as various ‘recreational” drugs release feel good chemicals in the brain, our own brain manufactures various chemicals as well in the “pleasure” centers of the brain which encourage us to repeat a pleasurable experience. People who take risks with cheating get a dose of the pleasure chemicals when they succeed in duping another, or adrenaline from the “high” from taking a risk of getting caught. These self generated chemicals can become as addictive as heroin and the people continue to get “high” taking risks, like the compulsive gambler gets a “pay off” from the adrenaline whether he wins or loses the throw of the dice or the horse wins or loses.  The big pay off is the risk taking. If they win in addiction to the risk taking, that is even more pay off.

Many times offenders seem to be addicted to the risk taking and the “highs” that can be had by taking serious risks. More healthy people who like that high get it in more socially acceptable ways such as racing cars, or riding bulls, or piloting aircraft, or climbing mountains, where as the offender gets it by robbing liquor stores or houses, or fighting.

Take a look at the offenders inside your family and look at the pattern of the cheating and risk taking and see if there is a definitive pattern there. If so, I think it should be taken into account in assessing your relationship to that individual. Just as there is only a small chance a substance abuser will quit, it is even more difficult for a “cheater” to stop their behavior because they are addicted to the “high” they experience in risk taking.

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  6 Responses to “Why do people cheat?”

  1. Great post. Sure we get a ‘high’ from cheating something or someone. We got away with it and many times people will ‘up the ante’ going for more, bigger wins, higher risks and on and on.

    Revenge? Who wouldn’t get a ‘rush’ of some sort for seeing the one who put one over on us, get their true deserves? In the heat of the moment we hope they get what’s coming to them because the whole thing about “Living well is the best revenge” just takes too blasted long to come about.

    Besides that, the person we may want revenge on? Probably doesn’t give two sh!ts about us or our feelings anyways. We want them to be hurt, we want them to feel something, anything, just not the pleasure they got out of duping us or screwing us over on something.

  2. Phoenix, my neighbor that sued me for $50K after the airplane my husband was in crashed into his pasture for HIS MENTAL ANGUISH was the object of my fantasy of revenge, and I hated him with a purple passion, lay awake nights trying to figure out a way to kill him and get by with it. I was really totally over the hill with that hate, and finally I came to see that I was HARMING MYSELF WITH THE BITTERNESS, HATE AND REVENGE FANTASY that I was feeling.

    sure what he did was nasty, uncaring, selfish and greedy, but I had to stop letting it eat me with bitterness like a cancer.

    The Bible tells us to pray for those who abuse us and while I did NOT mean a word of the prayers for these people, I wrote them out on pieces of paper and read them aloud and God himself knew I didn’t mean a word of them, but SLOWLY I CAME to mean them, as the bitterness drained out of my soul and peace crept in. I’m not sure the praying helped THEM but it sure helped ME.

    I admit that keeping that bitterness at bay is an ON GOING PROCESS not a “one and done’ thing, because if I let it, it will creep back in, but I work on it,

    I’m reading Dr. George Simon’s book “The Judas Syndrome” and it is a very good book It talks about how we can see when someone is sincere or not, and hear in their words what they are thinking in their hearts to discern the truth of their attitudes.

    When people continue to offend, to cheat, lie or steal, no matter how much they say “I love you” we know that words are not sincere when ACTIONS at odds with the words.

  3. Joyce, thank you for this article. I remember being in high school and my “best” friend was a habitual cheater. I suppose that she had been given the “green light” to do this by words that her mother spoke, saying, “I don’t care HOW you do it, but you are GOING to graduate.” Well…….this gal was not nearly as stupid as she acted, but she gave in to the partying-instead-of-studying-syndrome, and she began cheating on every test, report, etc. Of course, I got involved for a while until it occurred to me that I didn’t NEED to act dumb or even cheat. She would write extraordinarily detailed cheat notes for tests, which clearly indicated that she was READING the information, but she was too lazy (with the go-ahead from her mother) to be bothered with retaining the information.

    Revenge? Only in my mind. Retribution? I still have 5 more years to file a criminal complaint that the exspath forged my signatures, and I am still strongly considering that option. People (not just HIM) should be held accountable for defrauding others of their personal finances.

    You are 100% spot-on that managing bitterness is, indeed, an ongoing journey and that no matter how many times the WORDS are regurgitated, the actions are always decibels louder than anything coming from anyone’s mouth.

  4. Well, how about this article? A guy teaches people how to pass a polygraph and lie and get away with it…then he gets 8 months in jail.

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An Indiana man who taught federal job applicants and others how to beat lie-detector tests was sentenced to eight months in prison Friday in a case that raised questions about the right to teach people how to lie.

    Chad Dixon, 34, of Marion, Ind., pleaded guilty in December to wire fraud and obstructing a government proceeding with his business, Polygraph Consultants of America.

    Federal prosecutors said Dixon taught dozens of people, including applicants to be federal border guards, and he was good at his trade.


    This particular mention in the article makes my blood run cold…

    What’s more, Phillip’s said, is Dixon was effective. He said one of Dixon’s customers was a Herndon, Va., man who had been convicted as a peeping tom and had to undergo polygraph tests as part of his probation. The man had failed seven consecutive tests before taking Dixon’s course. He then passed three consecutive exams.

    It’s well known that most people can’t cheat a lie detector test, because the lying engenders fear which causes blood pressure and skin conduction to increase, but psychopaths who have no fear can easily pass them. My son is a perfect example of that.

    But I’m not sure that this guy can LEGALLY be jailed for what he did, due to our right to “free speech” however, “free speech” doesn’t allow you to yell “fire” in a crowded theater either.

  5. Joyce I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted revenge on certain people. Laying awake at night, mad at the world because of them and their actions, no appetite during the day, and not knowing whether to despise them for what they did or to hate myself even some for allowing it?

    Yes I was killing myself, softly, quietly and slowly… withering away into a small part of what I once was. That was the second time around that this particular person about did me in. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but by the time it happens, I would likely be dead cold myself.

    The spath or otherwise disordered offender? They sleep just fine at night because they don’t care. They don’t feel they have done anything wrong and even if they did, you are now past history and irrelevant, insignificant .

    Thankfully I have lived and learned and now moved on in life. They can sort out their own wrongdoings and atone for it when the day comes. I have learned to grey rock probably a little too well at times. I can walk away, I am not surprised, no longer shocked, non-reactive and have learned to control my anger. I just don’t have time for their sh!t anymore, and frankly all it really is, is Sh!t. One. big. giant. load. of S.H.!.T…….

  6. Yea, no matter how many rules you make people will find ways to cheat them. The statistics on kids in college and high school cheating on texts and papers are very saddening and few people if given too much change at a cash register will give it back.

    There ARE people who don’t cheat, but I’m thinking they are more rare than not. But that little burst of pleasure hormones we get when we have “duping delight” at having pulled a fast one, or when we contemplate revenge urges us to be vengeful or dishonest, but in order to be what I consider “happy” I think honesty, kindness and caring, are the primary things I need to focus on, and that includes being HONEST. And I want honest responsible folks around me.

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