New research by Vincent and colleagues (2013) has come up with a rather interesting finding about the tendency to commit theft. The authors conducted two studies (experiments). The first study showed that individuals who experience positive emotions steal more often than individuals who experience neutral emotions.
The second study extended the results of the first study. The second study showed that individuals who experience positive emotions, and simultaneously score low on self-awareness, are more likely to steal than individuals who experience neutral emotions and score low on self-awareness.
In the study, self-awareness was induced by the feeling of being watched, and they promoted thoughts about a mindful God as well, which earlier research has shown to be effective in inducing self-awareness.
Why would happy people steal more often? Well, the present study supports the idea that happy people have a greater “cognitive flexibility”, compared to people with neutral emotions, which allows them to rationalize their theft and stretch their moral grey zone.