What Makes People Cheat?
Cheaters seem to be everywhere these days in sports, boardrooms, and in the government.
Are you a cheater? You may not think so. Sure, you may not be perfect, but you probably consider yourself a reasonably honest person.
Experts in many different fields of education, sports, and law, for instance -- believe that cheating has become more accepted in recent years.
We have got professors and scientists who cheat, journalists who cheat, CEO's who cheat, lawyers who cheat and sportsmen and women who cheat. It seems like everybody is doing it.
If cheating is more common, why are we more likely to cheat than previous generations? What does cheating do to us? How does it harm ourselves, society, our families.
Is Cheating Really Worse These Days?
Some experts say that some amount of cheating is inevitable in any culture. When the first human beings set out the first rules for ethical behavior, there was no doubt some scheming person who started working out ways to bend them a little.
Apparently levels of cheating in a society can rise and fall. Some experts think that they are on the rise. It's hard to find definitive numbers to establish that cheating is more common across the board.
This idea that there are only a few bad apples in the barrel, is undermined by the fact that in reality, in many, many different sports, there are only a few good apples.
According to most experts, that most cheaters are not usually looking for public attention Some people cheat to keep up, or to get by.
We are all in a desperate struggle against each other to make it to the top. Failure is disastrous. Experts have noticed that the pressure starts when we're young.
For some parents, not getting their child into the right school or college spells social and economic ruin. They are pushed by their parents to get perfect grades, play sports, join a dozen extracurricular clubs, and take up esoteric hobbies or rare musical instruments in order to stand out to admissions officers.
For young people, the pressure is greater than ever, and the competition is greater than ever, it makes cheating in school an attractive option. That pressure doesn't let up when people get out of school.
Many people feel insecure in their jobs and worry about the future. If staying afloat takes a little cheating, many people are willing to do it.
Everybody is doing it
The more people do it, the more it becomes accepted. The more it's accepted, the more people do it. If you are in an environment where cheating is the norm, a lot of people will just go along with it.
In fact, if you feel like everyone is cheating, then not cheating seems bad. You are just shooting yourself in the foot. you will suffer while all the other cheaters get ahead. Being scrupulously honest may seem like a nice idea, but to some people it's pointless, as quaint and as practical as ditching your computer and writing with a quill. That the same is true for athletes who feel pressured to use performance enhancing drugs.
Only a tiny minority of athletes actually want to use these drugs, but everyone sees them as tools of the trade. The advantage conveyed by these drugs can be so great, that it is not the difference between coming in first and coming in second or third.
It is the difference between coming in first and not making the team at all. No one wants to be the first one to quit using drugs on principle. Many athletes feel like they can not afford to unilaterally disarm.
In addition, cheating sets an example for others and that this is especially true of athletes using drugs. A lot of this does not trickle down, it cascades onto our children. Many youngsters in many different countries have cycled on anabolic steroids.
To think that there is no connection between elite athletes using drugs and our kids using them is the height of naiveté.
But role models closer to home might make a big difference, too. No one can know whether a parent who steals cable is more likely to raise a child who starts cheating in school. But it might
Children who have parents who cheat are probably more likely to cheat themselves. If people in positions of authority or role models are cheating, then I think it sends a signal to young people that cheating is OK.
What Does Cheating Do to Us?
Many people might argue that cheating is a victimless crime. Who's being hurt? Cheating has a real and corrosive effect on society. Society is premised on people accepting and obeying the rules. Why do we stop at a stoplight on a desolate road in the middle of the night? Or why do not we steal a pack of gum when we know that the cashier is not looking?
Part of it may come from the fear that we're secretly being watched. But another reason is that most of us have agreed to be bound by the rules of our society. Cheating breaks those rules, and the effects can be far-reaching.
Cheating is harmful because is betrays your responsibility to the community. It can make community standards fall apart. Imagine being treated by a doctor who never took an exam in medical school without a cheat sheet? Or finding out that your home team only won because they had the most effective doping regimen? We all rely on the fact that people like doctors and athletes are what they seem, that they are qualified and have earned their position.
Although there's little firm evidence, some experts think that cheating in one part of your life may lead to cheating in others. People who cut corners early in life, such as cheating a lot in school may bring that habit to the workplace.
Cheating also forces you to lie to yourself. Many cheaters develop rationalizations for why they cheat.
Some say that, we say that we should lie on our taxes because we think tax rates are too high. Some say that we are cheating in school not because we could not do the assignment on our own but because it is much faster to copy.
The more excuses you need to justify your behavior, the more compromised your ethical compass. You may ultimately wind up feeling like a fraud, unworthy of the things you have.
Don't cheat !
If you get a B while everyone else got an A because they were cheating, that is a good B to have. We need to put less stress on individual achievements and relax a little. Parents can recognise that life is not a linear set of accomplishments. People can find their way, and a child does not need to jump through every hoop perfectly in order to lead a secure and successful life.
Many people feel pushed into cheating because everyone else is doing it. They do not want to be the lone person who does things honestly. But if you are in that position, take a stand, and be a honest person. You may feel better about yourself if you do!