The article appeared in the New York Times newspaper and was written by Benedict Carey. It begins by pointing out to the acquittal of baseball star, Barry Bonds, of all charges except one: being an impediment towards the application of justice – he might also be cleared of this. Carey writes that this decision is not only morally wrong but a permanent offense to persons who obey the law. She goes on to say that offenders should be punished if found guilty irrespective of their status in society.
The article mentions that ironically, it is the fascination with fairness that makes people break the law. For instance, cheating becomes simpler when a person frames a situation to cast himself as a casualty in some form of unfairness. Such a move can be viewed as a restoration of fairness, rather than cheating.
Cheating begins with minor violations and grows gradually, finally becoming a hobby. The process occurs subconsciously. Low-level cheating may appear normal and even fruitful in certain situations, however, many persons tend to consider the laid down rules as fair even when they have the opportunity to break them. In summary, the shift from minor violations to a purposeful pattern of dishonesty or deceit is less an incremental slide than a purposeful plan and mainly occurs due to personal reasons.
Psychologists say that the urge to lie may also originate from strong feelings of unfairness, and once it starts, it is easily imparted onto others. When a person achieves a positive feat after cheating, he normally attributes it to their inherent abilities, rather than deceit. Finally, when a person realizes he has been cheated, it forces an uncomfortable feeling and self-awareness.
The first theme observed in this article is behavioral psychology. The author expounds on how the practice of cheating begins until it becomes a habit. This vice starts as a minor habit and gradually grows, as we seek for more and more shortcuts without ever realizing it. The influence originates from a behavioral mechanism that makes the act of cheating normal. Besides, behavioral influence causes a person to cast himself as a victim of some circumstance, this makes it easy to cheat. Finally, cheating originates from strong feelings of unfairness. As we grow up, we encounter many instances that depict unfairness: better performance in class, private tutors, and rich parents, all of these encounters alter our behavioral perspectives and increase the tendency to cheat so that we may be even. And when it comes to negative traits, we are more likely to overrate how much others have in common with us.
The second theme derived from the article is cognitive development, that is, the processing of information by the brain. The article shows how the brain processes information without our involvement. For instance, cheating begins as a minor habit and grows gradually, subconsciously. In some instances, a person begins to view cheating as a normal act, and as an important component in achieving whatever he wants. This normalcy of the cheating habit results from cognitive development.
I chose this article because it furthers my understanding of the cognitive and non-cognitive processes that occur in the event that a person cheats. An understanding of these processes is vital since it will assist me in my future profession, besides, it may help me detect deceit, and learn not to be a culprit.
Carey, B. (2011). The Psychology of Cheating. The New York Times, Web.