In a radio broadcast on Radio 1 of Flemish public broadcaster VRT, Sophie van der Zee, Assistant Professor of Applied Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, addresses the question of why some people lie and cheat.
Van der Zee is a legal psychologist at Erasmus School of Economics and does a lot of research on the issue of why people lie and cheat. First of all, the associate professor argues that it is more important for some people to win than others; some are more competitive than others. Moreover, some people often feel that their reputation is at stake. One of the main factors for cheating, says Van der Zee, is creativity: creative people lie and cheat more often and are more likely to justify this. Justifying bad behaviour is important here: on the one hand, people think it is important to be honest, but at the same time there is an advantage to not being honest. You win a game easier that way, for example. A situation then arises in which people start being dishonest to the point where they can just barely justify it to themselves.
Van der Zee also refers to one of her own studies, which is about the influence of rejection on the likelihood of someone cheating. After feeling unfairly rejected, people are much more likely to cheat. Moreover, if people around you cheat, you are more likely to do so too. Two things play a role in this: you are quick to imitate things, and lying or cheating gets used. So every time you lie or cheat again, it gets easier to do.