“Our research was focused on who is more likely to subsequently engage in unrelated unethical behaviours - winners or losers?", said one of the researchers Amos Schurr from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.

The research group conducted five studies with students in Israel. The first two studies demonstrated that winning a competition increases the likelihood of winners to steal money from their counterparts in a subsequent unrelated task.

The last study, a post-competition survey, suggested that winners felt a sense of entitlement after besting their opponents in the initial competition, which the researchers said explains why they were more likely to cheat.

In the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers also noted that the subsequent unethical behaviour effect seems to depend on winning, rather than on mere success.

"These findings suggest that the way in which people measure success affects their honesty. When success is measured by social comparison, as is the case when winning a competition, dishonesty increases", Schurr explained.

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