Study: Richer or poorer, cheaters cheat by Lynn Brezosky of The San Antonio Express-News. If people don't cheat as much as they could possibly get away with, does it mean they are not always following their self-interest? Excerpts: "Are people more likely to cheat when times are tough? A team of behavioral economists from Texas A&M University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on New York traveled to a remote village in Guatemala to answer that question. What they found surprised them: while most people cheat a little, people who cheat more do so regardless of whether they're richer or poorer. In another finding, people gave more to strangers in another village when times were bad for everyone, indicating people are more empathetic in times of scarcity." "“Economists
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"Are people more likely to cheat when times are tough?A team of behavioral economists from Texas A&M University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on New York traveled to a remote village in Guatemala to answer that question.What they found surprised them: while most people cheat a little, people who cheat more do so regardless of whether they're richer or poorer.In another finding, people gave more to strangers in another village when times were bad for everyone, indicating people are more empathetic in times of scarcity.""“Economists get really surprised when they find out either that people do not cheat or they do not cheat to the full extent, especially when the potential cost of cheating is very, very low,” RPI behavioral economist Billur Aksoy said. “Because what we say is that if the cost of doing something is less than the benefit of doing it, you should always do it.”"The lab has technology that analyzes facial expressions, skin responses, heart and respiration rates, eye-tracking and neural signals to help researchers learn how emotional responses drive decision-making. It’s part of a field of research that’s gaining traction as a tool to help guide personnel recruitment, website design and store layout.
In one experiment, researchers used eye-tracking to redesign the menu for Messina Hof ’s wine-tasting room in Bryan. They found that tweaks such as putting prices after the wine description instead of lined up to the right prompted visitors to buy with their palate rather than their wallet. Profitability increased 18.6 percent.In the Guatemala study, participants were told they’d be paid based on the number they rolled on a die, with a one earning them five quetzales, or about 65 cents, and a five earning them the maximum 25 quetzales, orabout $3.25, which was equivalent to a typical day’s pay. Zeros or sixes earned nothing.Based on probability, the researchers knew that people cheated 90 percent of the time. But no one pretended to role a five all the time. And the cheating rate was the same both before the harvest and after. The same people cheated the same amount no matter when they rolled the dice.""David Hoffeld infuses behavioral science in sales, the nation’s second-largest profession, in his book “The Science of Selling.”“A lot of times products and services get rejected not because of the validity of the product or service but because of how they’re presented,” he said. “And the more we can align selling with buying, the more successful we’ll be and the more we can serve our customers and create deeper levels of loyalty and trust.”The Guatemala study’s findings on scarcity’s effect on generosity is related to Hoffeld’s discussion of so-called “status quo bias” — an example of which is when organ donation increases when people are asked not to “opt in” but to “opt out.”"