What Predicts Competitive Tendencies? The Prospect of Winning, And Actually Winning!

Church and Thambusamy’s article argues that the prospect of status benefits increase desire for competition, which then causes potential for more deceptive information sharing (279). In terms of University students, it may be apparent that students are more willing to cheat (by falsifying retained information or pretending to be someone else–falsifying personal information) if they will get an improvement in their class “status” based on their received grades. This drive to win/succeed in the face of other competitors connects directly to Schurr and Ritov’s article about the dice-in-a-cup experiment and students’ reactions including feelings of entitlement. “Winning a competition predicts dishonest behaviour” and winners tend to feel more entitled, as well as attribute a valuable purpose to their unethical activity relative to selfish motivations (Schurr and Ritov). Cheating thus becomes a way to attain and/or maintain status in the competitive educational hierarchy that is modern academics. Thus, Church and Thamusamy’s argument is validated by previous research and goes to show that people can be more motivated by their personal interests than by ethics, which gets into another argument entirely–that of ethics and honesty.

What do you think about people’s tendencies to cheat, once they’ve already won something? Does their entitlement lead to dishonest and ego-inflated behaviour? Do you have examples?

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