Life, for better or worse, is full of endings. We finish school, get a new job, sell a home, break off a relationship. Knowing that a phase is soon coming to an end can elicit the best in us, as we try to make amends for errors past and avoid last-minute regrets. We might try to visit that local museum, or make time for happy hour drinks with a longtime coworker, or be more generous with our praise to a partner.
But while the sense of an ending can draw out people’s finest selves, it can also, new psychological research suggests, bring out their darker side. This study concludes that, as people get closer to finishing an activity, they become more and more likely to deliberately deceive others for their own benefit. And they do this, the research shows, because they anticipate regretting a missed opportunity to cheat the system.
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