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.
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.
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.