Winning a competition predicts dishonest behavior

Amos Schurr*, Ilana Ritov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Winning a competition engenders subsequent unrelated unethical behavior. Five studies reveal that after a competition has taken place winners behave more dishonestly than competition losers. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that winning a competition increases the likelihood of winners to steal money from their counterparts in a subsequent unrelated task. Studies 3a and 3b demonstrate that the effect holds only when winning means performing better than others (i.e., determined in reference to others) but not when success is determined by chance or in reference to a personal goal. Finally, study 4 demonstrates that a possiblemechanism underlying the effect is an enhanced sense of entitlement among competition winners.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1754-1759
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - 16 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and Barry Geltman for editorial assistance. This research was supported by the I-CORE program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee, the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 1821/12), and by the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.


  • Behavioral economics
  • Behavioral ethics
  • Competition
  • Corruption
  • Decision making

Cite this