A "shockingly high" proportion of young New Zealanders are OK with lying, cheating and stealing, saying they are under pressure to "bend the rules" to be successful, according to a survey.
The Colmar Brunton Youth survey, of 500 people aged 18-30, released on Wednesday, showed some disturbing figures, said Colmar Brunton's Spencer Willis.
"The rate of dishonesty among the surveyed population is shockingly high," he said.
"The most worrying thing is that it is deemed acceptable, with 87 per cent of survey participants saying they are satisfied with their personal ethics and character.
"There appears to be a wide gap between the way people see themselves and the way they view society, which is evident in the average participants rating their own honesty higher than the rest of society."
Eighty-nine per cent said lying was sometimes justified.
"Unsurprisingly there is a lot of self interest in the reasons for lying, the good news being 72 per cent will more often than not feel guilty about lying," Mr Willis said.
A "staggering" 92 per cent in the survey had cheated at one stage or another. The majority were playing card or board games but more than 50 per cent cheat on high school homework.
Almost a quarter cheat at university and around one in five cheat in relationships and in sport.
Mr Willis said the result was summed up by the comments of one of the survey participants: "Every person is constantly pressured by the media and the society to bend the rules. The image of a person who is successful due to not playing by the book is extremely popular, so everyone gives in to it at some point."
Younger people (18-21) had a more "casual" outlook on what is considered stealing compared to their older peers, the survey found.