Daily Archives: September 19, 2016

Cheating experiments

The article “Cheating Lessons” was divided into three parts and talks about the many experiments that were conducted to find out people’s incentive to cheat on multiple situations. The article itself was written based on Dan Ariely’s (The duke economist and behavioral theorist) trade book called “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone, Especially Ourselves”.

Cheating lessons part 1

The first part of “Cheating lessons” starts by talking about how the experiments have to create environment where there are ways, stimuli or even incentive for people to cheat.  The control condition was to design an assignment that would allow the research to perceive the average level of dishonesty in adults. The experimental condition was that the researchers would alter the assignment in various ways to see whether the level of cheating would increase or decrease based on the factors.

Ariely had concluded from his experiments that most people would be willing to cheat when given the chance to. He called this “Fudge Factor” and it helps him to explain most cheating real life situation. The paragraph 3 and 4 on this link provide more details about the usefulness of “fudge factor”.

The article then continue by explaining how many researchers have tried to change the behaviors of the cheaters; especially students in higher education. However, Ariely believed that we should focus on the structure of the environment instead of the many individual possible cheating inducement factors of the students. This is mainly because he believes that they are too many dishonesty in our daily life and changing it would be a very difficult task to do. The paragraph 9 and so on this same link would provide more details about what could have been changed to reduce the willingness to cheat.

The article then gave the example of the “Princess Alice” experiment to demonstrate a situation where they videotaped a group of children of age 5-9 who were told that if they succeed in throwing a Velcro ball at a target and sticking it, they would be given a reward. This task was seen considered almost impossible for the participants to ensure that the children would have more incentive in cheating.

The group of children were divided into 3 groups under 3 different conditions:

  • The first one was put in a room with the presence of a friendly female observer.
  • The second one was put in a room without any supervision.
  • The last one was put in a room where the children were told that an invisible figure called “Princess Alice” watching over them.

The results were that children are less willing to cheat when there is the presence of an adult and higher when they are left alone in the room or in the room with “Princess Alice”. However, we should also noted that some children did not believed that “Princess Alice” existed. Only one children who were uncertain about the existence of “Princess Alice” was still willing to cheat despite the uncertainty. The first part of the article concluded that these conditions are similar to certain circumstances within our college level classroom and that we should avoid allowing students to be in these conditions to minimize the cheating. The paragraph 11 and so on would describe on this same link the full details of this experiment.

Cheating lesson part 2

The part 2 of this article focuses on the stimuli that would induce cheating. Whether higher stakes would induce people to cheat. They looked into the psychologist George M.Diekhoff’s researches, who targeted American and Japanese students and look at their cheating behavior. He used the basic strategy of gathering data by listing varieties of academic cheating behavior and asked the students whether they used to commit any of those behavior during their time in college.

He found out that 29% of the American students acknowledge that they cheated at least in one exam while the Japanese students rate was at 55%. The difference in the percentages was due to the greater pressure to succeed in an exam for the Japanese. This was believed to be caused by their learning environment where Japanese students had only one big major final exams which will determines their grade. On the other hand, Americans students are usually given many short exams and quizzes more frequently over the year, allowing them to progress over their past mistakes. This means that Japanese students are more pressured to succeed because one exam can determine whether they pass or fail their year. Thus, the article concluded that rare and high-risk exams causes people to be more willing to cheat. To read more about this experiment, please refer to the paragraph 1-10 on this link.

The article also gave another example about the Chinese civil service exams where it would reward the well-achiever of high income and stable place within the Chinese government. This means that even peasant would be given the chance to get a better sustaining life. These exams were held rarely and also were very high-stakes exams because failing would be consider as a shameful position and make the person questioned themselves if they should study again for two to three years before the next exam. The punishment for cheating in this exams were extremely severe because it could lead to death sentences. Despite these severe punishments, all kind of cheating still occurs due to the high-stake factors and demonstrate that preventive measure does not stop cheating. To read more about this experiment, please refer to the paragraph 14-19 on this same link.

The conclusion of part 2 was that we should provide a learning environment with frequent and many low-stake assignment when possible. However, they still would be certain cases where high-stakes exams are still required. The article suggested that we should prepare the students to be ready by giving them frequent assignment of similar format where high-stakes exams skills would need to be put to use so that the students can practice it more often.

Cheating lesson part 3

Part 3 of the article starts by talking about the cheat rate over the past 50 years. He starts by telling us about the first survey of cheating in higher education conducted by a Columbia students named William J.Bowers during 1963. The results were that 75% of the students admitted that they cheated at least once during their time in college. The author then compared this results to the 2002 to 2010 results by looking into “Cheating n College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do About It”, a book that includes results from many surveys over the past years. The results were that 60-70% of the students admitted that they cheated before. The author of the article questioned the reliability of these results because the researches in the book used Web to gather information while Bowers used paper survey. Nonetheless, the rate of cheating is still very high because it exceed the average of the students meaning that even in a small class of 10 students, at least 6 of them would cheat.

The article still concluded similarly to part 1 and 2 where high-stakes exams induce cheating and the frequency of being able to put those skills into practice. The article further explains how low-stakes exams is beneficial because it helps student to learn better. They also stated that the best prevention against cheating would be to provide students enough tools and interest for them to learn it in a morally way. The article also highlighted that learning through low-stakes evaluations such as quizzes helps student learn better than the usual traditional way through text-book, notes or highlighted text.

The article then talked about Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke’s experiment. They divided their participants into 4 groups and ask them to learn and memorize 40 English-Swahili word pairs for 4 study sessions. Afterward the experimenter gave them a week before coming back to recall their words. The study finds out that repetition in testing helps the students to learn faster as repetition also allowed them to have better retention of the words. You can read further details of the study on this link.

Therefore, the article concludes that repetitive learning, rehearsals, frequent testing allow the student to learn better and reduce their incentive to cheat because their memory are consistently being used, helping the students to gain confidence.

By Dhaam Sakuntabhai






The Science Behind Cheating

Cheating has been a problem for as long as I can remember, and rather than wondering why I’ve been wondering how. If it has been an issue for as long as it has, I would think there would be more research going into it and how to prevent it. A few experiments have been done explaining both why and how people cheat.

A first-year math student at the University of Waterloo has been charged with uttering forged documents and personation at an exam after allegedly paying someone $900 to write the test for her.

There are many reasons people decide to cheat and one is in high stress environments. In a study George M. Diekhoff led he surveyed a group of American students and then later a group of Japaese students and the results determined that 26% of American students admitted to cheating as opposed to 55% of Japanese students. The researchers concluded that this was because Japanese students have less tests throughout the year therefore their final is a large percentage of their grade. This causes a higher stress environment than in American schools causing them to cheat more often than the American students.

In conclusion, what teachers should do to further prevent cheating is change their curriculum. By adding more exams, assessments, and assignments students are less pressured to cheat because it has less of an effect on their grade as it would if there were only one exam. Studies have shown that frequent tests and quizzes help learning, so it would be beneficial for both the teacher and the student.



Info pt.1

Info pt.2

Info pt.3

How to Fix a Cheating Enviroment

From the first test I can remember taking, I can remember people cheating. Since elementary school, big tests have caused nervousness, uncertainty, and self-doubt for myself and for many other students. The pressure that comes with big tests can sometimes be unbearable, and often drives students to do the one thing they’re taught not to do the most: cheat.

James W. Lang, author of Cheating Lessons, offers his insight over three articles on the matter of cheating both historically and in present time. He covers all the bases; initially speaking on why, how, and when people cheat before moving to ways to help prevent and limit cheating.

In his first article, Lang refers to a researcher names Dan Ariely. Ariely created environments that made cheating easier and environments that made it harder for his subjects when he conducted his tests. To mine nor your surprise, the individuals with less at stake, for whatever reason, cheated more often. Whether it was an incentive like money or simply how close they felt they were being monitored, the people with less to lose consistently cheated more often than the others. Ariely referred to this as “The Fudge Factor”, concluding that individuals are more likely to cheat in the right situation. Lang uses another example, the “Princess Alice” test, to illustrate that cheating can be controlled, but there are very specific methods that need to be taken.

Lang then switches gears in his second article and references a 1994 study led by the United States and Japanese researchers. This study, led by George Diekhoff, intended to uncover the difference in cheating rates in different demographics. The group interviewed thousands of students in Texas and Japan. The average age of the Texan students was younger than the Japanese, so the researchers, like myself, assumed the Texans would have a much higher cheating rate. However, what they found was quite the opposite. A mere 26% of United States student admitted to cheating while a whopping 55% of Japanese students did! Puzzled by the results, the team took a step back. They looked deeper into what must be causing the massive cheating. Japanese students, as opposed to the Americans, took one final exam at the end of each class. Talk about a make or break! I mean no home works, no quizzes, no participation, none of it. It all boils down to one final exam for them and that’s whats driven so many of them to cheat. What Lang took away from all this is of great significance- students do better in an environment that provides frequent, low pressure opportunities (i.e more home works, quizzes, participation) rather than one were everything is riding on one or two exams. I find this to be extremely accurate for myself as well as my peers. The less pressure that comes with each class, the less stress that comes with each class. Lowering students’ stress levels and our need to feel like we NEED an A+ every time we click submit will directly help cheating rates decline.


In his third piece, Lang opens with stats from a 1963 research study held by William J. Bowers. Mr. Bowers went to over one hundred schools and identified the thirteen different types of acts that he considered cheating. The results he got were staggering: roughly 75% of college students admitted to have had cheated before. Fifty years later, Donald McCabe picked up where Bowers left off and essentially ran the same study. His results? Roughly the exact same, he discovered a %60-70 cheating rate. Overall, Lang concluded that the students are not going to be the one’s to change the system, it must be the faculty.

Cheating is so punishable yet so common. How do we make it end? All of the above information suggests the best way to stop cheating is to increase learning. The best way to increase learning is to keep your students engaged. Lang made an excellent point at the end of his third article regarding how to keep students engaged. He stated “With five minutes left in class, ask students to close their notebooks, take out half a sheet of paper, and write down the most important concept (or two, or three) that they learned in class that day.” Its the little things like these that will a) keep kids more engaged and with the big picture and b) make them feel more confident and comfortable with the everyday material they are taught. They should be taking frequent, low stake exams that they feel comfortable with on rather than being handed an extensive exam with over a months’ worth of work. If students are interested and don’t feel such extreme pressure, the cheating rate is almost guaranteed to go down. The best defense against cheating is simply to take the pressure off. Students’ wouldn’t feel the same urgency and desperation that often leads to cheating if they didn’t feel the hot pressure beating down on them.

These articles helped me recognize that while cheating is a huge problem, it is solvable to some extent. The more we can prevent cheating, the more student’s will actually learn. Student and faculty alike need to do their part in facilitating the collective effort to stop cheating.

Has your horoscope been lying to you??

Recently in the news, there had been claims made that the zodiac signs were being changed. Naturally when hearing this, I freaked out. Was I no longer an Aries?? Had my zodiac readings been lies for the past 18 years?? How is it that they had always been so strangely accurate???? I began to question everything I knew about myself. Okay maybe I was being a little dramatic—like usual—but I was just so baffled at the fact that this idea I had always thought to be true was suddenly not true at all.


It turns out that there are actually 13 zodiac signs, as oppose to the 12 that we are all used to. The new sign was now Ophiucus. This lands between November 29 and December 17th, ultimately moving around all of the other signs. To my surprise, I was now finding out that I am a Pisces. According to the article, “YOUR ASTROLOGICAL SIGN HAS SHIFTED: NASA UPDATED THE ZODIAC SIGNS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 2,000 YEARS”, only about 14% of people have had the right zodiac sign all along. This obviously shows the reasoning behind the giant wave of confusion over this issue, being that it is now affecting such an immense amount of people…but should we really be worried?

After looking more into this topic, I discovered a more recent article clearing up this entire debacle. The article, “NASA Clears Up Zodiac Sign Controversy, Space Agency Denies Changing Star Signs”, includes how NASA points out the difference between Astrology and Astronomy, essentially putting an end to this entire dilemma. The 13 constellations have always been known, however they do not fit into our 12-month period properly. All in all, no one’s signs are actually going to change. Everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief and go back to carrying on with their normal lives—again I might be the only person that really took the time to freak out over this but that’s beside the point. So for now I can re-download my horoscope app that I had deleted in a moment of panic, and continue to read my readings in peace.



Sources: <http://thespiritscience.net/2016/09/02/your-astrological-sign-has-shifted-nasa-updated-the-zodiac-signs-for-the-first-time-in-2000-years/>


Pictures:  http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/993/875/084.png