We like it when we get away with cheating — and not just in relationships.
Call it cheater’s high, or duping delight, but psychologists have long known about the thrill of getting away with pulling one off on others. But for the most part, they’ve found it in psychopaths and others who thrive off the sense of power it gives them over other people.
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. In his interviews, he says, cheaters say that “they often feel conflicted or not so great.”
Why the difference? Ruedy and her colleagues only studied the immediate effects of cheating, so it’s possible that the thrill of cheating is short-lived, and that many cheaters do later feel regret. There’s also the fact that socially, it’s not acceptable to admit to feeling good about intentionally bending the rules to your own benefit.
[Read the rest on CNN]
Have you ever felt a high after cheating? What’s your most memorable thing you got away with that made you feel good?