New large-scale research led by the University of Leicester shows that winning does not cause people to cheat, in stark contrast to a previous high-profile study.
A 2016 paper* by Israeli researchers reported a series of experiments, which claimed that winners of skill-based competitions are more likely to steal money in subsequent games of chance against different opponents, as opposed to losers or people who did not see themselves as winners or losers.
This highly-cited study of relatively small sample sizes proposed that competitive winning induces a sense of entitlement that encourages cheating.
But now, an expanded and enhanced study by researchers at the University of Leicester (UK) and the University of Southern California (USA), published today (Wednesday) in the journal Royal Society Open Science, has refuted the original findings.
The international team of researchers found that people with a strong sense of fairness cheat less — regardless of whether they had previously won or lost.
They examined the behaviour of 259 participants in a lab-based dice-rolling game — identical to the original study — and 275 participants undertaking a basic coin-tossing game in an additional online experiment. The results were then analysed using standard statistics plus a mathematical technique called structural equation modelling.
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