Lauren Rae | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 18 May 2016

\'Unethical Amnesia\' Is A Thing And It Explains Why Some People Cheat Again and Again

'Unethical Amnesia' Is A Thing And It Explains Why Some People Cheat Again and Again

The Debrief: Ah so that's what they're calling it these days

Curious as to why serial cheaters continue to do so without a second thought? Well, this study might answer some of your questions.

If you buy into the whole ratchet reality TV theorem - which admittedly I do on my days off - you’ll understand that many of the people involved *cough* Peter Gunz, are serial cheaters. So bad in fact that you have to question how 1. They get away with it so often? And 2. Why they continue to return to the individuals they’ve wronged with a pathetic plea? Yes, I know it’s reality TV and that effectively means it’s not really reality but it does make for a good point. Here’s hoping that someone (ANYONE) reading this actually watches Love and Hip Hop. 

Anyways, according to science serial cheaters suffer from a behaviour referred to as ‘unethical amnesia’, much like that of a sociopath. The term ‘unethical amnesia’ refers to maintaining a positive self-image, and is apparently why individuals do not recall many of their own misdemeanours. What this also means is that people who tend to cheat, selectively forget their wrongdoings. How convenient. This particular study carried out by Maryam Kouchak and Francesca Gino, focuses on the mind set of cheaters. It was carried out on over 2,000 people and involved nine separate experiments. Individuals were trialled and tested on a number of different elements, and then questioned about them weeks later.

One of the experiments, involved 70 members and a game of coin-tossing, the game was selected so that the people involved could cheat easily in order to get more money from their opponents. Weeks later the same 70 participants were asked back and requested to retell the game from their perspective, point by point. Participants were also asked to write down the details of the meal they had that evening following the game. From the evidence, researchers determined that just under half (43%) of the individuals had lied about cheating in the game, but remembered vividly the meal that followed.

Come to think of there have been a lot of Monopoly games that were followed by mediocre fast food meals where people conveniently ‘forgot’ that I was owed money, but remembered exactly what they had eaten… it’s all falling into place now. 

The study was published in the PNAS and if interested, further information can be found here.

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Tags: Relationships