DR. JOHN INVESTIGATES Part 3.........
Social norms, too , play an important role in the decision whether or not to cheat. If players perceive others as not abiding by the rules , then many forms of unethical behaviour must appear be acceptable, or subject to the proverbial blind eye. When the game has been corrupted by lax enforcement of the rules , then players are far more likely to be dishonest. Often the social norm within a bridge club is to harbour suspicions but to ignore them , and certainly not to voice them. The stigma of making false or high speculative allegations of cheating creates a fear factor , which the cheaters will exploit to the full. Given that many players subscribe to the old adage of " it's never right for the pot to call the kettle black ", there appears to be a perverse code of (dis)honour among cheats. If cheating is going on at other tables , then players will view their own behaviour as having very little impact.
Indeed, the incidence of cheating increases if players are placed in a position of power, either through age, seniority, rank , status , and in depth of knowledge of the rules. My research suggests that players who assume power are greatly tempted to abuse it. Indeed , society rewards and values power and achievement , encouraging the corrupt to cheat again and again.
Consequently, a mindset is created luring bridge players to engage in unethical self-promoting behaviour. Results of course represent that achievement , whereby the sole preoccupation is about getting tops. The enjoyment and experience of playing the game is of no significance. Cheats are not interested in " mastery " goals, only in notching up a large number of imps on each and every board.
Sadly , bridge is a game where referees and directors never observe play at the tables. They are so few of them. Sadly, they are called into action only after a table incident or an alleged breach of the rules has occurred. The real policing it seems has to be done by the players , on each other , at the table, but as mentioned before this rarely happens. There is always too much to think to consider wasting precious energy and concentration on what opponents may ( or may not ) be getting up to. Careful scrutiny of their behaviour is extremely difficult over 3 boards , if not impossible. When hard evidence is missing and only suspicions remain, then players will continue to feel safe in their own " anything goes " centre for approved cheating.
On a final note , pernicious cheating can become self-reinforcing. So when players cheat , they develop a tendency to rationalise their behaviour , which compounds their desire to carry on cheating. " I don't think I'm cheating " is one classic response. Another is " That's not cheating really " , or " It's the way I do things...... like every one else in this club ". Consequently , any one who is accused of cheating adopts an attitude , which fully justifies their actions. A classic case of self-delusion and/or denial. Either way , this line of reasoning , makes them feel better , but it also encourages them to cheat again. They rationalise unethical behaviour , they accept it , and they cheat once more. All I see are players becoming morally disengaged from their conscience , keen to forget moral codes of honesty and sportsmanship. Cheating , it seems , causes a self-justifying block on ethical considerations , especial those which would certainly undermine their chances of securing better scores , glory and fame.