Honest people don't have to work at not cheating. They're not even tempted.
Neuroscientists at Harvard University conducted an experiment in which they were able to predict by looking at brain scans whether people were cheating or telling the truth. The scientists cautioned, however, that they are still far from being able to apply the technology to real-world situations.
In each round, fMRI was used to record brain activity in the prefrontal cortex and other regions associated with decision making and behavioural control.
Honest players showed no increase in brain activity when they had a chance to cheat, suggesting that they didn't have to make a conscious effort to be honest. In contrast, dishonest players showed increased brain activity whenever they had a chance to cheat – even when they reported (presumably truthfully) that they had lost.
I'm not sure I agree with their definition of "honesty". Someone to whom the idea of being false is literally unthinkable isn't so much being honest, as being true.
Someone who is aware of the possibility of gaining by lying, but choses to tell the truth anyway because that's the right thing to do, that's being honest.
And I'd much rather trust such a person outside that context than someone who isn't even tempted. Because those who haven't been tempted have never been tested, and there may come a time when they do encounter temptation in another context - and may fail.
In that regard, in most contexts I'm not honest, merely true. Sometimes I get surprised at what others regard as "normal behaviour", especially in a legal context. I could never perjure myself, or plead guilty to something I hadn't done to get a minor sentence, merely to avoid an inevitable finding of guilt and a far more severe punishment. The whole concept of doing that is just beyond my ken.
I think that's a matter of ego rather than something more creditable though. Brutally, when stripped of all pretense and self-deception, the only person whose opinion of myself I value is me. The world may think I should be ashamed of myself, but as long as I know that I've not done anything wrong, even if no-one else does, that's what matters when the chips are down. Conversely though... even if no-one else in the world knows that I've done something wrong, but I do, then that's all that matters too.
ShrinkWrapped had a good article on the subject some years ago, in a political and social rather than purely personal context. The difference between Guilt and Shame.
Shakespeare's Polonius said in a deliberately hokey homily to his son:
"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."But of course, he then got sliced up a treat by Hamlet when hiding behind a curtain, listening in, pretending and being false. It's all too easy to be a hypocrite without realising it. Parenthetically, Shakespeare obviously intended Polonius to be a knowing hypocrite, these homilies mere mouthings - even though they're really good advice. By the Director including or omitting a short scene with Renaldo, he can either be seen as a knave or a naif, depending on what is wanted. But I Digress.
Whoever said "Honesty is the Best Policy" had obviously never tried it. The vicious streak of honesty I have has gotten me into far more hot water than anything bad I've ever done.
But being shameless - at least, when I know I'm not guilty - that has stood me in good stead. Many people think I should be ashamed of, well, having my sex change. And I am embarrassed by it. But shamed? Not in the slightest. So when I deal face-to-face with such people, and it's obvious to them that I'm not ashamed in the slightest, nor trying to hide my "shameful secret", they have severe cognitive dissonance. It can cause them to question their beliefs about the subject. By being an open book (rather than either a blaring advertising sign, or a locked tome in a restricted archive), just by being me, I've had a lot of success reaching people.