Does the extent of cheating depend on a proper reference point? We use a real effort matrix task that implements a two (gain versus loss frame) times two (monitored performance versus unmonitored performance) between-subjects design with 600 experimental participants to examine whether the extent of cheating is reference-dependent. Self-reported performance in the unmonitored condition is significantly higher than actual performance in the monitored condition— a clear indication for cheating. However, the level of cheating is by far higher in the loss frame than in the gain frame under no monitoring. The fear of losses seems to lead to more dishonest behavior than the lure of a gain.
Cheating and loss aversion: do people lie more to avoid a loss?
9 December 2015