Want to compose a great symphony, write a classic novel, come up with a brilliant new app? Cheat on your taxes first—or on your spouse, or on your poker buddies. It’s easy—and fun, too.
That’s the unsettling implication of a new study released by the Association for Psychological Science and conducted by business professors at Harvard University and the University of Southern California. The investigators recruited a sample group of volunteers and had them complete a math puzzle in which multiple columns of figures were added in multiple ways. The subjects were told they would be paid for each correct answer and, incidentally, that they’d be grading themselves. Nobody would check their work before they got their cash prize. So: free money, right?
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