That guilty twinge you feel when you cheat on something? Probably never happened. Because you love cheating. Cheating feels great.

New research suggests that the feeling of guilt associated with cheating on an exam or lying on tax returns is actually just a figment of our imagination; a feeling our memories conjure up after the fact to make us feel better about being unethical.

Because in actuality — according to a new study, "The Cheater's High," conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, Harvard, London Business School, and Penn — cheating feels pretty damn good.

The researchers conducted six different experiments offering participants a multitude of opportunities to cheat (both directly and indirectly, sometimes with the lure of financial gain and sometimes not). They found that the cheaters generally felt thrilled, satisfied, and superior about their dishonesty.

“We were a little appalled,” University of Washington postdoctoral research associate Nicole E. Ruedy — the lead author of the study — told the New York Times.

And people probably aren't going to stop cheating any time soon.

“The fact that people feel happier after cheating is disturbing, because there is emotional reinforcement of the behavior, meaning they could be more likely to do it again,” Ruedy said.

[image via Shutterstock]