The old saying is, “Cheats Never Prosper.” But a study in the Harvard Business Review says that when the cheating has no apparent victim, then cheating prospers the cheater quite a bit…maybe not in terms of money but definitely in positive feelings.
The study was based on participant’s feelings after “cheating” on an intelligence test. The participants were shown the correct answers for the intelligence test before they took it. They then scored better on the intelligence test.
Researchers at the University of Washington led by Nicole E. Ruedy discovered that people experienced a boost in scores on their positive emotion scale. Cheaters moved up to 2.71 on a 5-point system, from 2.42 previously. Non-cheaters actually declined in positive emotions after the test on the 5-point scale.
The positive feelings stem from an idea that the cheater was clever. As a result of this cleverness, they got away with something, or scored better on something, or got something they shouldn’t have. The feelings come from self-satisfaction and superiority. Both of these emotions tie into the competitive nature in all of us.
Dan Ariely, Behavioral Economist, explores this concept of cheating a little more. He believes that most people will cheat when they can but only a little bit. In this video titled, Our Buggy Moral Code, he relates results of several experiments he performed to measure what could influence our desire to cheat. One of his conclusions was that we would cheat but that it was based on our own fudge factor (which in most cases was just a little bit). He also learned that when you see a member of your group cheating and prospering, you are likely to cheat as well.
The moralist in all of us is appalled at this notion, of course. But it shouldn’t be. These positive feelings were only noted when there wasn’t a victim in the “cheat.” Also all of Ariely’s experiments had no victim either. So we can assure our more prudish side that everyone is ready to become a con artist or a pool shark since both of those cheats have definite victims. Besides, who hasn’t felt a little self-satisfied for feeling clever at some point in their life?
This is instead insight that helps us understand a little more about our emotions. This for us is an aspect of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand why you are having emotions and being able to manage those emotions when necessary. In our recent post, “The Emotionally Intelligent Organization and the Customer Experience”, we explore how companies can use this intelligence to design an experience that creates positive emotions for your customers.
It is our belief that by doing this you can help from stronger emotional bonds with your customers and begin the hard work of building customer loyalty for your brand. This positive emotional bond and loyalty is critical to the competitiveness of your organization in today’s highly competitive global marketplace.
So how does this apply to your customer experience? I have asserted repeatedly that your customer’s emotions play a major role in the overall experience. By designing an experience that makes your customer feel clever and as if they are getting an excellent deal because they are clever, they are likely to return. Subconsciously they will be drawn to your brand because it makes them feel better about themselves. These emotional and subconscious ties are what build the loyalty you need to keep your customers coming back and your profit ledgers in the black. We discuss this on our live webinar Customer Experience management training events.
The new study says that we all like to feel clever and superior, even if we have to cheat to feel that way. So finding a way to incorporate these emotions into your customer experience can be a great way to build positive emotions into your overall experience. These positive emotions will create both emotional and subconscious bonds with your customers, which are the foundation of customer loyalty.
So even though cheaters may never prosper, companies that make their customers feel as good as they do when they cheat will prosper quite a bit.
Where have you seen cheats proposer? I would be really interested in hearing your comments below.
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