Get access

To Win, or Not to Lose, At Any Cost: The Impact of Achievement Goals on Cheating


Corresponding author email:


We examined the relations between achievement goals and cheating in two studies. The findings from Study 1 show that the extent to which people intend to behave unethically in the areas of work, sport and education is a function of their dominant achievement goals in these particular settings. An even more important addition to the extant literature may be the finding from Study 2 that imposing achievement goals on individuals affects actual cheating behaviour during task performance. Consistent across both studies, performance-based goals (i.e. goals grounded in an interpersonal standard) were more strongly associated with cheating than mastery-based goals (i.e. goals grounded in an intrapersonal standard). We conclude that recognizing and understanding the effects of achievement goals on cheating behaviour may enable business leaders, organizations and their employees to create ethical organizations.