Judging Those We Cheat
25 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2019 Last revised: 16 Apr 2020
Date Written: November 27, 2019
How do people judge those they have cheated? Existing theories offer contradicting predictions: on the one hand, cheaters may judge their victims more favorably because they feel guilty for having cheated; on the other hand, to protect their self-image, cheaters may blame their misbehavior on their victims and consequently judge them more negatively. Previous research has neglected to explore this potentially important negative downstream consequence of cheating. In four experiments, we find that cheaters judge victims more negatively the more they cheat (Studies 1 and 3) and more negatively when their cheating behavior is made salient (Studies 2a and 2b). However, when cheating is hard to justify, cheating degree does not affect judgments (Study 3). These findings have important managerial and marketing implications because cheating is common and consumers’ judgments drive their own future choices and word of mouth, thus influencing other consumers’ behavior.
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