People act immorally if situation is favourable

Many people say they wouldn’t cheat in a test, lie on a job application or refuse to help a person in need. But if situations are ‘favourable’, they don’t take much time to change their minds, found researchers at the University of Toronto.

The researchers, who carried out two experiments to test participants’ willingness to behave immorally, found that people would like to behave badly if it doesn’t involve too much work on their part.

“People are more likely to cheat and make immoral decisions when their transgressions don’t involve an explicit action,” said Rimma Teper, lead author of the study.

“If they can lie by omission, cheat without doing much legwork, or bypass a person’s request for help without expressly denying them, they are much more likely to do so.”
In one study, participants took a math test on a computer after being warned there were glitches in the system.

One group was told if they pressed the space bar, the answer to the question would appear on the screen, while the second group was told if they didn’t press the enter key in five seconds of seeing a question, the answer would appear.

People in the second group — those who didn’t have to physically press a button to get the answers — were much more likely to cheat.

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