Nogami & Yoshida (2013)

Nogami, T.(野上達也), & Yoshida, F.(吉田富二雄) (2013).
The pursuit of self‐interest and rule breaking in an anonymous situation.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43(4), 909-916.
doi: 10.1111/jasp.12056
The present study examined whether psychological self-interest would instigate rule breaking in an anonymous situation. In total, 66 individuals were observed whether they would pursue material or psychological self-interest by breaking existing rules under the cloak of anonymity. Anonymity was defined to minimize accountability for one’s behavior, and was strictly manipulated to make all participants equally anonymous during the experiment. Results showed that only participants in the material-reward condition broke the rules, whereas those in the psychological-reward condition did not. Also, there was no difference found between the two conditions in subjective feelings of anonymity and public self-awareness although rule breaking was observed only in the material-reward condition. Implications for socially undesirable behavior in anonymous situations are discussed.