6 Reasons Why People are Dishonest

by Jun Loayza on November 21, 2008

Would I have blown the whistle on myself?  I feel that I am an honest person: I tell the truth, do not cheat, and try to be the best person that I can be.  When I read about what JP Hayes did this week, I asked myself the question, “Would I have done the same thing?”  Hayes accidentally used an illegal ball for only two shots of his qualifying round.  He didn’t turn himself in at the tournament; rather, he notified judges after he got back to his hotel.  No one would have found out, yet he disqualified himself.  Why?

I thought about this for a while, and found that people are dishonest because of the following reasons or influences:

1. Laziness

Lazy people like to take the easy way out.  Just think back to your high school days and the amount of cheating that went on.  You had friends, girls (or guys), sports, and TV to think about; who actually had the time to study?  People who are unmotivated and want things to come easy will take the dishonesty route.

2. Don’t have the skills

People who don’t have the skills need to cheat to get ahead or keep up with the rest.  We see this all the time in sports: baseball players take steroids, China uses 13 year-olds for the Olympics, and football coaches tape opponent practices.  It must be devastating to devote your entire life to a sport, only to find that you naturally just can’t measure up to your competitors.  Instead of being true themselves, they choose to cheat because of a lust for fortune and fame.

3. Peer pressure

My Dad once told me, “Tell me who you hang out with, and I’ll tell you who you are.” These words have resonated with me throughout my life, and I have surrounded myself with people who are honest, motivated, and intelligent.   But what about people who grew up with dishonest friends?  Is it their fault that they’re dishonest as well?   I am one who promotes that an individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own decisions, but I do feel that we are a product of our surroundings.   Peer pressure can make a weak individual do dishonest things.

4. Greed

If JP Hayes had cheated, he would have been a victim of greed.  He has money, fame, and is an accomplished golf professional.  He doesn’t need the money at all and not making it into the tournament would not have been the end of the world.  However, some people are greedy and want to make as much money as they can.  They crave the attention and want to be in the lime light.

5. Financial situation

When you’re broke, you think of any way to make money.  If you have to commit dishonest action to make money, then you do it because of necessity.  Well, I shouldn’t say “necessity” because there are always ways to survive financially in an honest way.  These people just choose dishonesty because they want the easy way out.

6. Confused morals

If you’re brought up by dishonest parents, then you have a high chance of being dishonest as well.  I had a friend from UCLA who cheated his way through his entire life:

  • He lied on his UCLA application by putting 100’s of hours of community service when he really had none
  • He cheated on every single test
  • He lied on his resume by writing he had founded companies he never started
  • He even tried to cheat us out of rent money!  (Yes, the guy was my roommate)

The funniest thing was that he thought everything he did was perfectly normal!  He didn’t care if it was honest or not; he just did what he thought was necessary to progress in life.

So the answer is clear.  JP Hayes did not cheat because he was NOT influenced by the 6 points above.

  1. He is not lazy because he has been practicing and playing golf all of his life
  2. He does have the skills because he has previously one a big tournament
  3. His peers are honest golfers, so it was pretty much positive peer pressure
  4. He showed he wasn’t greedy because he disqualified himself
  5. He has a lot of money, so he wasn’t in a bad financial situation
  6. I don’t know about his parents, but I’ll bet they were honest people as well

So why the post?  If we understand and comfront these 6 reasons for dishonesty, we can all become more honest people.

About the author

Jun Loayza Jun Loayza is the President of Ecommerce Rules. In his entrepreneurial experience, Jun has sold 2 internet companies, raised over $1,000,000 in Angel funding, and lead social media technology campaigns for Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Levi's, LG, and Activision. Find Jun on Google or Twitter

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  • http://kongskorner.com Kong

    Most people have no moral center. In such people’s minds, the only good is what benefits them, the only bad is what gets in between them and what they want. How their actions affect others or society in general doesn’t figure into it, it’s all just ego and id. They would kill people to get what they want if they thought they could get away with it, and sometimes they do take that risk. They never show remorse until they get caught, because remorse is the thing, again, that might get them what they want i.e. their freedoms back. Then there’s other people who have morality but no critical thinking ability, and confuse “legal” with “moral” and “illegal” with “immoral” as if the two concepts had anything to do with one another. The sad thing is that the few decent human beings in this world who try to live by the golden rule eventually find themselves having to be just as selfish as the bad people, because if they practice goodwill and selflessness the self-centered masses will take everything from them and give nothing back but disrespect. being a good and you’ll get treated like a chump. be a selfish, ruthless piece of crap and you’ll have lots of adoring fans.

    • anna

      I disagree with the statement that most people have no moral center. I think most, if not all people have a strong moral center, but they are too scared to use it. This could be because of peer pressure, fear of getting caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing, or any number of other reasons. I’m sure there are some people who do, in fact, have the type of mind set you described, but it is crazy to think that most people are wired that way.

  • devilsadvocate

    Everyone short of a mental handicap is born with a moral center. The choice to use it is up to each individual. An in these times, though I am an optimist, I must agree that this choice is rarely ever made when the states include getting / not getting what one wants. I witness masses of people do only that which suits them on an hourly basis regadless of the negetive effect on themselves and others around them. I constantly look for the good in life but find it within people much less often than the greed, egoism, and indiference. Hopefully we’ll be witness to a culmination of or cultutral revolution dealing with the popularity of dishonesty and blatant self interest.

  • aditya dev

    i”m satisfy with this 6 rules but i want say you that why u don”t add more reasons like 1: in india the indian peoples pull the legs of a successful man they think that if we are poor in our fields and very dishonest so why they are not . 2:they have a short mentality and they hanicaped in their mind and many orthers reasons . they are lazy and they type of perloiner which always think how we made peoples fool.

  • Belle

    Your comments are refreshing. As I get older and get into more business and dealing with others due to children, etc, I come across what I think are quite a lot dishonest people.
    A lot of my money has gone into paying for services here and there which are simply not carried out honestly, where I find myself short-changed and that is frustrating. Not to mention the ones who outright steal direct from others. It is almost continuous these days. I had to create a box where I put all the details, letters, etc of the people who shaft me to try to contain the issue and the box is getting fuller.
    Not a very good place being an honest person in this world because you will be had, that you want it or not. Dishonest people are very very rarely had. This could be an additional reason as to they are dishonest: jungle’s law, the first one who gets the other’s money or things or trust wins.

  • lala

    I don’t understand what make some people to sell thier country and the people, and are dishonest before the people, this case is true for leaders in 3rd world countries, for political benifets the super power buy them and use them against thier own people

  • Pearls

    I completely agree with this post. Thank you for writing it. I wish more people would live honestly. Number 5 reminds me of this song “I Believe.” It goes,

    “Violence is spread world-wide and there are families on the street
    And we sell drugs to children now, oh why can’t we just see
    That all we do is eliminate our future with the things we do today
    Money is our incentive now, so that makes it okay.”

    I wish people would stop using their financial woes as an excuse for wrongdoing. There are definitely other ways.

  • Renee

    I like this and it makes the utmost sense.. Especially, when dealing with people in the workforce whom are trying to get ahead..

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