Why Darkness Breeds Shifty Behavior
Study: People are more devious when lighting is dim
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2010 6:35 AM CST
Researchers have also found that people behave less ethically when dressed in hoods and baggy clothes.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – When it comes to the psychology of devious behavior, adults aren't much different from toddlers who cover their eyes with their hands to hide: We think that if we can't see, nobody can see us. So while there's nothing surprising about the fact that most crime occurs in the dark, a new study shows that the chance of getting caught isn't the only reason we behave badly when the lights are low.

The study found that people in a dimly lit room cheated in a game far more than those playing the same game in a brightly lit room—even with no chance of getting caught in either case. The darkness effect applies to generosity as well as honesty: Study participants wearing sunglasses distributed money more selfishly than those wearing glasses with clear lenses, and those with shades reported that they'd felt more like nobody was watching them.