The article “Why We Cheat” by Ferric C. Fang discusses the different situations where people cheat and give some statistics on acts of cheating. The article talks about cheating in many different areas, such as at work or in school. This paper will discuss the article’s main findings, interesting cheating facts, and reasons that researchers think that one may cheat (Fang 31-37).Cheating facts that Fang talked about includes cheating in school, at work, and in research studies and the animal kingdom. In the essay, it looks at why people cheat on certain things and what causes them to do it. The main theme throughout the piece is that people usually cheat because they are scared about losing something, such as money, a job, or social status. Besides, the main motivator is really having nerves about the loss. In other words, one feels really anxious and edged about the loss and cheating makes those feelings go away. It also said that creativity and watching other people cheating without getting any punishment was also something that seemed to cause more people to cheat. Some statistics that the writer included was how a research study at Pennsylvania State University showed that in almost ten schools, about 75% of the 1800 students admitted to cheating in school on tests, homework, or other assignments. The brain was also mentioned as a possible factor in why animals cheat. The article also mentioned how the bigger size of an animal brain means that more cheating will probably happen (Fang 31-34).
There are many areas in which I agree with in the Fang piece. For example, I do think that people cheat when the benefits for cheating are quite high. The example of in the piece about how individuals who could solve math problems for cash cheated when they felt that could get away with it. What was interesting about it was that most people only cheated a little bit, even when the case prizes were more. The reason for this was that experts felt that most human beings that cheated had somewhat of a conscience and that there was only so much cheating that one would do. To say it a different way, most people have a limit on how much they will cheat (Fang 34-35). I do not totally agree with that view. I think some people, such as people in politics, hackers, or who do other money crimes do not have a cheating limit. I think they cheat by stealing as much money as they can and will only stop when they get caught. I have read articles about how hackers steak people’s personal info or a company’s business files and then tell the people that they must pay a high ransom to get the files back. To be honest, I do not think that those people will stop until they get caught, are force to pay money back, or end up arrested in jail.
I found it interesting that bacteria and types of fish cheat by eating food that does not belong to them. They eat sugar enzymes and yeast made by cells that are not their own. The only thing I was confused about is how the young baboons cheated by mating behind rocks. Is it because they were not supposed to mate or was it because they already had a partner who is their steady mate? I found it true that men cheat more than women (Fang 33-34). I also think that most people are able to justify their cheating, such as one feeling that they can take some money from work by thinking that if work paid more, they would not have to cheat and steal money to pay bills.
I was hoping that the article would have said more about why people in relationships cheat on one another. Fang mentioned how young baboons cheat on their mates by hiding behind rocks. Yet, the people part was left out. I have some questions about human being cheating. Are humans who cheat in work or in school more likely to cheat on a boyfriend or girlfriend? I also wonder if guys cheat more than women. I have a feeling though that different reasons would exist as to why people cheat, such as one’s age, gender, and whether one has cheated before. Also, if one’s parents cheated on one another, would this make it more likely for their son or daughter to cheat, too? As far as human cheating in a relationship, I would also be nice to know if age or a person’s background matters. For instance, does a white person commit more cheating than a person of a different race or does a 20 year old cheat more than a 50 year old person? Maybe people can do studies on this some day.
As you can see, cheating is an interesting topic. Cheating happens in all areas, such as work, school, and in animals and people. Fang talks about why people cheated, the possible loss of work, money, and one’s reputation the main reason that one cheats. Yet, having some nervousness over this loss appears to be a major motivator for cheating. More students seem to cheat on school, 75% of students in Pennsylvania colleges cheating. More males seem to cheat than females. People also copy cheating behavior when they see that another person does not get punished for it. Although people who are more creative and smarter seem to cheat, cheating is not fair for people who are honest and follow the rules well. More research on why human being cheat on each other needs to be done in the future.

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  • Fang, Ferric C. “Why We Cheat .” Scientific American Mind May/June 2013. pp. 31-37.