Support the Café

Search our Site

Halfway through a task, we’re more likely to cheat

Halfway through a task, we’re more likely to cheat

When we cheat, we apparently do so in the middle of a series of events, rather than at the beginning or end. This extends even to religious observance, apparently. Wall Street Journal blogger Christopher Shea reports:

People tend to let their ethical guard down—and their standards for performance—during the middle of a series of events, a new study suggests.

In one experiment, 100 students proofread, one after the other, 10 different prose passages. Before each of the 10 sessions, they determined by flipping a coin whether they’d get a long one, featuring multiple errors, or a short one, with just a couple. Coin-flipping was unsupervised, but the researchers afterward analyzed the pattern of results for signs of cheating. In the middle sessions, but not the early or late ones, students got the “short” result a statistically improbable number of times — strong evidence the students lied to save themselves work. …

In another experiment, several dozen students were assigned to cut out five identical, intricate shapes, from cards, using scissors, one after the other. Raters judged the quality of the first, third, and fifth cutout—and found a pattern of sloppy work on number three: In the middle, people literally cut corners.

The results extended to religious observance. Two hundred students at Ben Gurion University, in Israel, were asked shortly after Hanukah, about their lighting of the Menorah: They were significantly more likely to light a candle on Day 1 and Day 8 of the eight-day holiday than the middle days. (Highly religious people lit the Menorah more often on Day 1 and Day 8 than other people, but slipped back toward the average on other days.)

Read Shea’s post here. Does this ring true for you?


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café