Do cheaters have an evolutionary advantage?

What is it with cheating? Cheaters seem to have an immediate advantage over cooperators, but do they have an evolutionary advantage? A study published in Current Biology suggests the benefits of cheating change with its prevalence,in a population. Cheaters may succeed, for example, only when they are rare, and fail when they become so numerous they push out cooperators.

Cheating — and getting away with it

We would all like to believe that there is a kind of karma in life that guarantees those who cheat eventually pay for their bad behavior, if not immediately, then somewhere down the line. But a study of a new gene in the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum suggests that, at least for amoebae, it is possible to cheat and get away with it.

Close family ties keep cheaters in check, study finds

Any multicellular animal poses a special difficulty for the theory of evolution. Most of its cells will die without reproducing, and only a privileged few will pass their genes. Given the incentive for cheating, how is cooperation among the cells enforced? In the Dec. 16 issue of the journal Science, Washington University in St. Louis biologists Joan Strassmann and David Queller suggest the answer is frequent population bottlenecks that restart populations from a single cell.

Academic integrity is focus of international conference, Oct. 16-18

Washington University will host The Center for Academic Integrity’s 18th Annual International Conference Oct. 16-18, 2009. Several hundred students, faculty and staff from around the world will discuss the practice and philosophy of academic integrity, focusing on issues germane to both college and high school education. The conference theme is “Creating a Culture of Integrity: Research and Best Practices.”

Why salary bonuses drive executives to cheat

You don’t have to look far these days to find examples of corporate scandals involving fraud. A new study finds that performance-based pay is to blame for fraudulent behavior and actually motivates people to “cook the books”. Judi McLean Parks, the Reuben C. and Anne Carpenter Taylor Professor of Organizational Behavior at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of the study believes the results have implications for CEO compensation plans and the financial difficulties many companies are experiencing today. “All I have to do is look at Enron, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to know that this does happen. And now we’ve demonstrated the causal link to contingent pay.” Fraud uncovered at Fannie Mae alone from 1998-2004 has been estimated to be in excess of $10.6 billion.

Cheating in world chess championships is nothing new, study suggests

Did the Soviets collude to win chess championships?As allegations of cheating dominate news from the current World Chess Championships in Russia, new research from economists at Washington University in St. Louis offers strong evidence that Soviet chess masters in the Cold War era very likely engaged in collusion to gain an unfair advantage and dominate key international chess championships held from 1940 to 1964.

Employees are most likely to cut corners when they lack clear goals and feel overworked

The television show “The Office”  portrays more truth than fiction. But the consequences of bad management can be more serious than the awkward moments portrayed on the program. Employees get cynical when they endure multiple changes in company strategy and when they are overworked, according to experts at Washington University’s Olin School of Business. As a result, people produce work, but they don’t care how they produce it. The drive to get things done in today’s business environment is so strong that workers start thinking only of short-term gains and ignoring long-term consequences. More…