Rule Following Mitigates Collaborative Cheating and Facilitates the Spreading of Honesty Within Groups

Jörg Gross, Carsten K. W. De Dreu
2020 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin  
Compared with working alone, interacting in groups can increase dishonesty and give rise to collaborative cheating—the joint violation of honesty. At the same time, collaborative cheating emerges some but not all of the time, even when dishonesty is not sanctioned and economically rational. Here, we address this conundrum. We show that people differ in their extent to follow arbitrary and costly rules and observe that "rule-followers" behave more honestly than "rule-violators." Because
more » ... owers also resist the temptation to engage in collaborative cheating, dyads and groups with at least one high rule-follower have fewer instances of coordinated violations of honesty. Whereas social interaction can lead to a "social slippery slope" of increased cheating, rule-abiding individuals mitigate the emergence and spreading of collaborative cheating, leading to a transmission advantage of honesty. Accordingly, interindividual differences in rule following provide a basis through which honest behavior can persist.
doi:10.1177/0146167220927195 pmid:32552605 fatcat:ussgolokxffhnep6n2ijcyn45i