According To Science, This Is The Reason Behind Why We Cheat

Cheating doesn't just happen in relationships.

Why Do People Cheat? Why Cheating Has Become So Common In Our Relationships And Other Parts Of Life Agung Rusdy via Unsplash

By Natalie Trznadel

These days, cheaters seem to be everywhere we look. People cheat in relationships, while at work, in school — the list is endless. 

We all like to think that we’re not part of this group, but the truth is often different.

RELATED: The Unexpected Reasons Some People Cheat (& How To Stop It From Happening To You)


Have you ever looked over your friend’s shoulder to check that answer to a math question during a pop quiz? Have you ever polished your resume with a non-existent qualification? Or perhaps, you’ve made several Netflix accounts using different emails just to get that one more month free?

If you’ve never cheated, even in the smallest of ways, then kudos to you. However, if you’re part of the majority of the population, you’ve definitely slipped once or twice. We all do.

Cheating is a fascinating phenomenon. We all do it, yet we can’t truly pinpoint the reason behind it. Luckily for us, many experts took to research cheating in order to answer this question.


David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong To Get Ahead, says that cheating has become more prominent in recent years.

More students plagiarize, more lawyers perjure themselves, and more business people operate corruptly. It could simply be a sign of times, since it’s harder to achieve something these days than it was before.

However, is that really it? So, why do we really cheat?

Most experts say that we cheat simply to get ahead in life. It’s an easy strategy and often proves effective. You got a B on a test, but you want an A? Cheat.

RELATED: Why You Were Born To Cheat On The Person You Love (Yes, Really)


For example, take the recent college admission scandal — it doesn’t get more obvious than that. Furthermore, Callahan argues that our emphasis on getting rich, along with the fear of financial insecurity has contributed to the spread of cheating.

Quite frankly, it doesn’t surprise me.

If you don’t get a college degree, you might struggle to have a financially stable job. And if you don’t have that, your whole life is at risk. Considering all of that, it’s no wonder some people turn to cheating.

We want to provide for ourselves and feel secure. Thus, if that state is threatened, we turn to drastic measures, like cheating.

In a way, cheating is our survival instinct. We want to get by and live a decent life. So, sometimes, we do things that ensure that life.


We know it’s wrong and we know we shouldn’t be doing this, but the consequences of failing feel more terrifying. So, we cheat.

Cheating is bad, there’s no doubt about it. And although we all know that cheating is wrong, we still tell ourselves that the ends justify the means.

Whether that should be right or wrong is a question for philosophers and ethics professors, but it’s definitely relatable. 


RELATED: 5 Excuses People Give For Cheating That Are Total Lies (& The Real Reasons Why People Cheat)

Natalie Trznadel is a writer who focuses on relationships, dating, and self-care. For more of her relationship content, visit her author profile on Unwritten.