"When people succeed in competition against others, it seems to compromise their ethics. It makes them more likely to cheat afterwards," (said Amos Schurr, a professor of psychology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel).
The problem, he says, seems to be a very specific type of success: the kind that involves social comparison, the sort that means doing better than others, instead of just doing well. And he believes it all boils down to a sense of entitlement that beating others in sports, business, politics, or any other form of head-to-head competition seems to foster in victors.
"Dishonesty is a pretty complex phenomenon — there are all sorts of mechanisms behind it," said Schurr. "But people who win competitions feel more entitled, and that feeling of entitlement is what predicts dishonesty."
In other words, when people win against others, they tend to think they're better, or more deserving. And that thinking helps them justify cheating, since, after all, they're the rightful heir to whatever throne is next — "If I'm better than you, I might as well make sure I win, because I deserve to anyway."
Roberto A. Ferdman writing in the Washington Post