During my US History Through Film class today, my teacher posed a question: would you sabotage somebody else's chance of getting into college in order to get yourself into the college of your choice?
I myself said no. Perhaps it is because I have already dealt with the stress of colleges while many other students are just deciding or still on waiting lists; perhaps it is because I am going to a place that I legitimately consider my first choice. Perhaps I'm just that morally good.
But many other students did not feel the same way, one even claiming that she would sabotage "up to five people" in order to get her way. Others concurred because "the decisions are so random anyway."
However, as soon as the teacher offered the hypothetical that that student would know that you had done the act, people began to change their minds completely. There was only one student who still said that she would do it. Surprisingly, people were much more shocked towards this claim than towards the original claim that she would sabotage somebody. "Have you no feelings of guilt?" yet another girl inquired.
Apparently, social scorn is highly accepted to be much more important to people than their own feelings of guilt. This is applied economics at work: people will act in their own self-interest unless there is an incentive in place against them.
Of course, the people who act the same whether or not anybody knows what they have done have what is known as integrity. It is the most interesting quality that a person can have because almost by definition nobody will ever find out about it (unless it is sorely lacking). I don't really know where I am going with this but I'm posting it anyway!