Cheating as Status Symbol

Two years ago I posted on "Tantrums as Status Symbols":

CEOs throw more tantrums than mailboys.  Similarly movie stars, sports stars, and politicians throw more tantrums than ordinary people  in those industries.  Also famous for their tantrums: spoiled young wives, bigshot patriarchs, elite travelers, and toddlers.   … Of course, like a swagger, the signal is not so much the tantum itself as the fact that someone can get away with it.

A related status indicator is acting like the usual rules don’t apply to you.  From the May 9 New Scientist:

John Trinkaus … One of his specialities is the study of minor acts of dishonesty and antisocial behaviour. In his 25 years of research, one demographical group has come to stand out above all others as being most likely to push boundaries and break rules. These are not disaffected teenagers nor Italian football hooligans. They are women van drivers.

Trinkaus’s important sociological finding is perhaps best illustrated by his extensive work covertly monitoring a supermarket’s "10 items or fewer" checkout over a span of nine years. As many of us may have seen for ourselves, Trinkaus found that some shoppers using this lane had more than 10 items. Some cunningly placed their items in groups of 10 and paid for each group separately. Trinkaus found that about 80 per cent of all the supermarket lane cheats were female van drivers.

This is by no means the only time that these women have been linked with small-scale social transgressions. Trinkaus has also shown that 96 per cent of women van drivers break the speed limit, compared with 86 per cent of male ones, and in one study, a staggering 99 per cent of female van drivers failed to come to a complete stop at a T-junction with a stop sign, compared with 94 per cent of the total.

Female van drivers feel like, and are, the highest status people in their social circle.  I’ll bet they throw a lot of tantrums.

Added:  One report says "Forty-three percent of cell phone users do not turn their phones off at the movies."  If rich men happened to be more guilty here, I doubt folks would be as eager to explain this away, e.g., maybe they are just extra busy.

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