Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Behavioural economics

Corruption corrupts

A cross-cultural experiment involving thousands of people worldwide shows that the prevalence of rule violations in a society, such as tax evasion and fraudulent politics, is detrimental to individuals' intrinsic honesty. See Letter p.496

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Rule violations across the globe.


  1. See all news & views


  1. Gächter, S. & Schulz, J. F. Nature 531, 496–499 (2016).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Keizer, K., Lindenberg, S. & Steg, L. Science 322, 1681–1685 (2008).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Fischbacher, U. & Föllmi-Heusi, F. J. Eur. Econ. Assoc. 11, 525–547 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Shalvi, S., Dana., J., Handgraaf, M. J. J. & De Dreu, C. K. W. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Processes 115, 181–190 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Shu, L. L., Mazar, N., Gino, F., Ariely, D. & Bazerman, M. H. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, 15197–15200 (2012).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Cohn, A., Fehr, E. & Maréchal, M. A. Nature 516, 86–89 (2014).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Schweitzer, M. E., Ordóñez, L. & Douma, B. Acad. Mgmt J. 47, 422–432 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Maggian, V. & Villeval, M. C. Exp. Econ. (2015).

  9. Weisel, O. & Shalvi, S. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 10651–10656 (2015).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Transparency International. (2015).

  11. European Commission. EU Anti-Corruption Report; available at (2014).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shaul Shalvi.

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Behavioural economics: Professional identity can increase dishonesty

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Shalvi, S. Corruption corrupts. Nature 531, 456–457 (2016).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing