Monthly Archives: November 2012

How we rationalize our small cheating

The researcher Dan Ariely has been focusing on what drives and motivates our decission process. For quite some years, he’s been researching The Truth About DishonestyThere are several of his amazing lectures on, too. This one I want to share today is a bit better for our English, since you can immediatelly see what he is talking about. Careful, he is a quick talker 🙂 But what he says is usually well worth listening to.

Why do we cheat, just a little? Because we need to see ourselves as a good person, but at the same time, we don’t want to miss out. So we rationalize constantly. As psychological distance between us and stealing money increases, we can steal more, or more easily.

Dan Ariely talking about Dishonesty


For example: a father will reprimand his son for taking a pencil from a schoolmate: “That is unaccaptable. Never steal again. Besides, you know, if you needed a pen, you could just ask me, I can bring you dozens pens from the office…”

And what gets people to cheat less? If we are reminded of our values (like the Ten Commandments, or during the confession), we cheat less, much less. Otherwise, we sort of give up and cheat more. By opening a new page, a fresh start, we tend to cheat less.

  • dishonesty – nečestné jednání
  • worth listening – stojí za to si poslechnout
  • cheat – podvádět
  • reprimand – pokárat
  • rationalize – odůvodňovat, zdůvodňovat si, omlouvat si
  • Ten Commandments – Desatero přikázání
  • Confession – zpověď
  • opening a new page, having a fresh start – začít znovu (idiom)

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Filed under Advanced English (pokročilí), Intermediate (středně pokročilí), Video, Vocabulary (slovíčka)