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Does resource scarcity increase self-serving dishonesty? Most people wrongly believe so

New paper by Lau Lilleholt in cooperation with Ścigała, Karolina Aleksandra & Zettler, Ingo in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, by the American Psychological Association

DOI: 10.1037/xge0001355

Does resource scarcity increase people's inclination to engage in self-serving dishonesty? Whereas some theories suggest so, we found no evidence for this across four studies, but a fifth study revealed that most people (wrongly) believe that it does. More precisely, based on three well-powered preregistered online experiments (overall N = 4,193), complemented by two pilot studies (N = 51 and N = 49, respectively) and one manipulation check study (N = 424), we provide evidence that neither exogenously induced resource scarcity nor priming people into a scarcity mindset influences people's inclination to engage in self-serving dishonesty. Furthermore, by linking country-level poverty data to a country-level indicator of self-serving dishonesty based on a recent meta-analysis comprising 47 countries and more than 44,000 participants, we found that people living in poorer countries are no more inclined to engage in self-serving dishonesty than people living in richer countries. Finally, we found that most people—and especially men and people low in Agreeableness versus Anger—wrongly believe that people living in poorer countries are more willing to engage in self-serving dishonesty (N = 658). Overall, our investigation adds new evidence to the burgeoning literature on the link between resource scarcity (in the form of poverty) and unethical behavior (in the form of self-serving dishonesty). (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved)