Does Competitive Winning Increase Subsequent Cheating?
journal contributionposted on 03.08.2022, 13:25 authored by Andrew Colman, Briony Pulford, Caren Frosch, Marta Mangiarulo, Jeremy NV Miles
In this preregistered study, we attempted to replicate and substantially extend a frequently cited experiment by Schurr and Ritov, published in 2016, suggesting that winners of pairwise competitions are more likely than others to steal money in subsequent games of chance against different opponents, possibly because of an enhanced sense of entitlement among competition winners. A replication seemed desirable because of the relevance of the effect to dishonesty in everyday life, the apparent counterintuitivity of the effect, possible problems and anomalies in the original study, and above all the fact that the researchers investigated only one potential explanation for the effect. Our results failed to replicate Schurr and Ritov’s basic finding: we found no evidence to support the hypotheses that either winning or losing is associated with subsequent cheating. A second online study also failed to replicate Schurr and Ritov’s basic finding. We used structural equation modelling to test four possible explanations for cheating—sense of entitlement, self-confidence, feeling lucky, and inequality aversion. Only inequality aversion turned out to be significantly associated with cheating.