Cause And Effect In Lying - Essay Prowess

Cause And Effect In Lying


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Cause And Effect In Lying

Dan Ariely is a leading behavioral economist, has two Ph.D. in psychology, and is also an author who has written the book titled “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.” Ariel writes about human behaviors in the behavioral economy field as he conducts research and experiments intending to understand human behaviors in organizations. The book he has written and the experiments that he has conducted have been instrumental in understanding the human behavior of cheating and lying. People will lie for different reasons depending on the circumstances. Some people will cheat to save themselves as it happens in the workplace, gain an unfair advantage as it happens among sportspersons and students, or avoid hurting others, as in a doctor to a patient. Most students think that cheating is acceptable, and they practice it very often in their academic life. It takes them by surprise when one of them is punished as they consider it as unfairness. The paper addresses cheating as practiced by people in an organization, among students, and in society. It also looks at the prevalence of cheating and methods and the perception that people have about cheating.

Ariely asserts that dishonesty is very common in organizations where the big and smaller cheaters coexist. However, the major problem is not with the bigger cheater but the small cheater who have to tell small lies to get away with them. He argues that many people can cheat a little bit, but he asserts that once we are accustomed to cheating, the fear moves from fearing to caught, but we start feeling bad about ourselves. The feeling that we all seek is feeling good about ourselves. Consequently, if we cheat a lot, it will make us feel bad about ourselves, and thus we tell the little lies that make us feel good about ourselves.  Ariely asserts that they run an experiment that involved approximately 15000 people where they found that a few hundred dollars to the big cheaters. At the same time, they found more than 30000 small cheaters where they lost more money than they had lost with the big cheaters.

We have both the small and the big cheater. The big cheaters are very few and have a small economic significance, while the small cheaters are very many, and they have huge economic consequences. Thus, we should be concerned with the huge number of small cheaters who have huge economic consequences.

Ariel makes a very good argument that people can cheat and still stay within the rules. He gives the example of people working in an organization with policies that people working up to 9 pm can order dinner and request a limousine to take them home. Sometimes people in the organization will take advantage of the offer, wat up to 9, order food, and be leaving by 09:01 pm. He asserts that such people have operated within the rules, but they have cheated their organization. They are classified as small cheaters. Ariely asserts that the organization’s rules are put with the organization, but the range of gray zones within them makes people take advantage of the rules and thus end up cheating due to the systems’ flexibility.

Ariely addresses the issue of whistleblowers who help organizations address the issue to do with cheating.  He asserts that cheaters do not become big cheaters at once, but it is a slippery slope that one undergoes over time until they become real big cheaters that people find hard to relate with. Ariely asserts that once one becomes a cheat and becomes accustomed to it, it becomes part of their routine, and they consider it normal behavior. It becomes part of their lives.

The first step that one makes is lying is the most dangerous as it forms the basis for the proliferation of bad behavior.

 Cheating and lying among students is considered normal behavior. Ariely gave a case when he was teaching at MIT, and some students cheat, and he had to expel them. The other did not understand the rationality of the decision and the action and had to ask, “why are you expelling them? We have been doing it all the time ([email protected] 12:00). The implication is that the students do not understand the seriousness of cheating as the system they find themselves in; it has been normalized to cheat.

Ariely asserts that having clear rules is that lying and cheating as it eliminated the ability to rationalize. People will rationalize things and interpret them in a way that benefits them. Morris asserts that the history of humankind is strewn with crafty and seasoned liars. With many of the criminals spinning lies and weaving deception to gain unjust rewards. People use lies to dupe others as politicians use lies to get to power or cling to it (Morris).

Liars and lying have become very popular in our present-day society due to the impacts of this vice that spreads falsehood (Hardin 54). Morris asserts that politicians will use lies to gain power or retain the power they have, as demonstrated by US President Donald Trump. Studies have shown that lying is a character ingrained in all humans as people will lie in any situation or to any person. Morris asserts that the human capacity to cheating is fundamental, just like trusts, making it practically impossible to detect lies for most people.


A social psychologist at the University of California named Bella DePaulo was among the first psychologist to document information and research on cheating. DePaulo conducted the study two decades ago, where they assigned 147 people the assignment of working every instant that they had been involved in cheating within the previous week. The researcher found out that lying is very prevalent among people, with the average person telling at least two lies a day. They discovered that most of the cheating had intentions of saving oneself, saving friends’ image, or simply gaining an advantage over others. Some of the lies were excuses, while others aimed to protect one’s image or give a non-existent image of oneself. While these were just some small lies, the study found that people tell serious things such as hiding an affair from their spouses or making a false claim on a college application.

Ariely gives a very informative analysis of human behavior and how they are wired to cheat. Some of the reasons that Ariely gives for cheating is to save one’s image or to gain an unfair advantage over others. In some cases, doctors and medical care professionals will lie to their patients to save them. Humans also lie to each other to save their peers the embarrassment that is associated with the truth. Students will be involved in cheating for tokens, which are then traded off for cash. The research has found that students who have been promised tokens will cheat more than the situations with no rewards. Ariely (443) asserts that consequences such as fines and punishment may have a small effect on our behaviors to keep people honest.

Ariely (441) asserts that we tend to think of people as either honest or dishonest, with some of us believing that people are virtuous, but only a few who influence and destroy others’ character. Ariely (441) argues, then it would be very easy for society to find a remedy with clearing dishonesty. If that were the case, then the human resource departments in organizations would screen for cheaters when hiring, and dishonest financial advisors or building contractors could be flagged quickly and shunned. Cheating in sports and other arenas would be easily identified and addressed to have a virtuous society. However, the author argues that this is not the case, and cheating is very hard to recognize, with people hiding their characters as they practice the vices to their advantage.

Human beings have the universals possession of talent that enables them to lie and deceive others. Researchers have shown that there is a very close relationship between lying and the development of language. Cheating involves the ability to manipulate others without the use of force, and thus, it is assumed that the cheaters have a higher mental capability than their victims. If this is not the case, then their lies will be discovered and subjected to humiliation. Cheating has been utilized among animals through the use of camouflage (Morris). According to Ariely (443), the level and the frequency of lying will vary depending on the prevailing condition. He asserts that increased cheating is the low probability that one will be caught and the huge monetary payoff associated with cheating.


I find the analysis of Ariely to be very true and well supported on the reason why people cheat in a different field. I agree that cheating is a behavior that develops and progresses from small events to the big event. At the standing point, a person will cheat on minor things, and it will seem normal. However, as time progresses and they become accustomed to lying, they will progress to big lies that cheating and lying become their normal way of life. I propose that people practice virtues that ensure that they always tell the truth to avoid the inconveniences that come with cheating. Cheating is a character ingrained in humans, and everyone cheats at one time or another regardless of the reason. It begins as an inconsequential behavior and can grow to make one a big cheater if it is nurtured. Individuals and society have a role to play in detecting and eliminating cheating.

Works Cited

Ariely, Dan. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves. Harper Perennial, 2013.

Hardin, Karol J. “Linguistic Approaches to Lying and Deception.” The Oxford Handbook of Lying, 2018, pp. 55–70., doi:10.1093/oxford HB/9780198736578.013.4.

[email protected] Dan Ariely on ‘The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.’ March 31. 2020,

Morris, Ryan. “Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways.” Magazine, June 18, 2019,

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