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Ideas

Uncommon Knowledge

Sitting in my giant cheating chair

And other surprising insights from the social sciences

The cheating seat

Ah, for a nice, big, comfortable seat, where you can stretch out and be totally unethical. According to a team of researchers from top universities, expansive postures encourage people to relax the rules. In one experiment, people in Boston and New York who had been asked to adopt a wide (vs. narrow) pose were subsequently much more likely to stay quiet when they were accidentally over-reimbursed for their participation. In another experiment, students who had worked with a large (vs. small) amount of desk space were more likely to cheat by changing answers on a test. And students who played a car-
racing video game in a spacious (vs. compact) seat were more likely to ignore instructions not to hit-and-run. Likewise, on the streets of New York City, cars that were observed to be double-parked had larger passenger compartments than the cars that were blocked in.

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