The Attractive Trait That Predicts Cheating

They did not feel guilty about cheating, either.

They did not feel guilty about cheating, either.

Narcissists are more likely to cheat and do not feel as guilty about it, research finds.

The study on academic cheating found that fiddling the test allowed narcissists to show off their academic ability to their peers.

Narcissists often appear more attractive to others, until their real personalities shine through.

Dr Amy Brunell, the study’s first author, explained:

“Narcissists really want to be admired by others, and you look good in college if you’re getting good grades.

They also tend to feel less guilt, so they don’t mind cheating their way to the top.”

Narcissists are highly self-centred and want to show off their skills to others.

A lack of empathy means narcissist feel less guilt for what they do.

Dr Brunell said:

“Narcissists feel the need to maintain a positive self-image and they will sometimes set aside ethical concerns to get what they want.

We found that one of the more harmless parts of narcissism — exhibitionism — is most associated with academic cheating, which is somewhat surprising.”

Typical questions that identify a narcissist include strongly agreeing with the statement “I think I am a special person.”

However, it wasn’t this but the showing off that really drove the narcissists in the study to cheat.

Dr Brunell said:

“You would think that the belief that you are a special person and that you can do what you want would be associated with cheating.

But instead, we’re finding that it is the desire to show off that really seems to drive cheating.”

Narcissists also believed that everyone else was cheating just the same as them, Dr Brunell said:

“One argument might be that narcissists are admitting to cheating, but saying that everyone else does it, too.

But that’s not what we found.

Narcissists actually report more cheating for themselves than they do for others.

It seems likely that the same people causing problems in the workplace and engaging in white collar crime are the ones who were cheating in the classroom.”

High self-esteem — which is quite different from being a narcissist — was not linked to cheating.

Dr Brunell said:

“People with higher levels of self-esteem are probably more confident in their abilities and don’t feel any peer pressure to cheat.”

People with high self-esteem thought others were unlikely to cheat, since they did not need to themselves.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Brunell et al., 2011).

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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.