The human mind is a curious thing. There’s so much we don’t understand about the mind and the brain, and there are many things that we cannot begin to explain. The reasons why we cheat is one of them.
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We’re not just talking about cheating in romantic relationships, but also cheating at tests, at work, or in life in general. But why do we do it?
Why We Cheat at Tests
Psychologists don’t really know why we cheat at tests, but there are a few theories:
- It’s a moral thing: The more advanced our moral development, the less likely we are to cheat. Those with limited morality are more likely to cheat.
- It’s a math thing: We weight the cost of cheating against its benefits. If the benefits outweigh the costs…
- It’s a subconscious thing: Our decision to cheat or not is made at a subconscious level, according to how we view others, ourselves, and the world.
- It’s an environment thing: Students in dimly lit rooms or places where they think no one is watching are more likely to cheat. Messy environments also increase the risk of cheating, or when people are put in a position of perceived power.
- It’s a societal thing: Society instills certain attitudes and beliefs in each of us. The perceived value of power and achievement lead us to cheat, regardless of the ethics. It’s all about succeeding and beating the competition.
- It’s a fatigue thing: A 2011 study proved that people are more likely to cheat when they are mentally or physically tired. Sleep deprivation and stress play significant roles in cheating.
Whatever the reason we are likely to cheat at tests, you need to realize that cheating encourages more cheating in the future. It’s a self-reinforcing habit, and people who cheat or behave dishonestly are more likely to become disengaged morally from society and their environment.
Why We Cheat at Love
If you love someone, why would you even think of cheating on them?
According to one scientist, it’s because of your brain’s hardwiring! Biologically speaking, the human mind is hard-wired with the possibility to love more than one person at once.
There are three "types" of love that the brain registers:
- Sexual attraction: This is that itch that you get when you NEED to have sex, usually with the person you feel romantically attached to.
- Romantic love: This is the kind of love that helps you to focus your desire to "mate" (from an evolutionary standpoint) on that person in your life.
- Attachment: The calm and comfort you get from being around the other person. This is an important part of love, as it provides a "safe" place to bring up children.
At the beginning of your romantic relationship, you have that strong sexual attraction for the person, and you develop the feelings of romantic love. Over time, the attachment is added, giving you the safe place to start your family.
But you can have those feelings of attachment WITHOUT the feelings of sexual attraction or romantic love. That means that you can still love your long-term partner or spouse, but your brain starts to get romantic feelings or becomes sexually attracted to other people. You don’t love that person you’re sharing your life with any less. It’s just that your brain can find love for other people too.
Cheating may be in your DNA, but that doesn’t make it right. Just because your mind is hard-wired with the possibility of cheating, that doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it!
Have you ever cheated in a test (I won’t ask about love)? Why do you think you did it? Let me know in the comment section...