Aarhus University Seal

Collaborative Cheating in Hierarchical Teams: Effects of Incentive Structure and Leader Behavior on Subordinate Behavior and Perceptions of Leaders

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

What facilitates collaborative cheating in hierarchical teams, and what are its outcomes for those engaged? In two preregistered studies (N = 724), we investigated how subordinates are influenced by leaders signaling a willingness to engage in collaborative cheating, and how subordinates perceive such leaders. Participants performed a task in which they could either report their performance honestly, or cheat for financial gain. Each participant was assigned a leader who could choose to check the report’s veracity. In Study 1, leaders who checked less often were perceived as more moral, trustworthy, competent, and psychologically closer than leaders who checked more often. This trustworthiness bonus translated to investments in a subsequent trust game. Study 2 revealed that these relationship benefits specifically arise for collaborative cheating, compared to competitive cheating (at the leader’s expense). We conclude that collaborative cheating in subordinate–leader dyads strengthens in-group bonds, bringing people closer together and cultivating trust.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Pages (from-to)1166 - 1183
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

    Research areas

  • collaborative corruption, ethical decision-making, moral psychology, person perception, trust, Motivation, Deception, Humans, Trust, Morals

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 270130235