Two clicks, “copy” and “paste” can ruin your career. Even a tiny peek over at your peer’s test, when you aren’t sure if the answer is A or C, can get you kicked out of school. Everyone thinks they can get away with cheating, whether it be copying homework or sending the answers to a test to their friend. The three part series of the article, “Cheating Lessons” written by James M. Lang, thoroughly describes experiments that have been done to test why people cheat. Lang bases his article on a trade book called, “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie To Everyone- Especially Ourselves” by Dan Ariely. Dan Ariely is a Duke economist and behavioral theorist.
“Cheating Lessons, Part 1”
This first article describes a detailed experiment that was conducted to test how far people are willing to go in order to cheat. Ariely’s first task was to get a baseline of how much people would do to cheat. He and his partners did this by distributing money to anyone who could get a math problem right. As the amount of money given would increase, the amount of cheating in order to get the problem right would increase. It then describes the “Princess Alice” experiment. This experiment was done with kids of the age of five through kids of the age of nine. The object of the game, for these kids, was to throw a Velcro ball at a sticky target. If they hit the target, they would get a prize. The conductors decided to record this experiment in order to catch all possible cheating. The first step in this experiment was to split the kids up into three groups. One group of kids were put in a room with a female observer. She had a friendly vibe to her, but would not assist the kids (she was just watching). The next group of children were put in a room with no supervision whatsoever (except for the camera that they, of course, were not aware of). The last group was put in a room with “Princess Alice”, an invisible princess that the children were told was watching over them. Here is how the experiment played out: the kids were less willing to cheat with an adult in the room, or “Princess Alice”, but were more willing when they were alone and had no supervision. I found it interesting how some children did not believe in “Princess Alice”, but only one kid who wasn’t sure if “Princess Alice” existed, was still willing to cheat. The most interesting part of this article to me was in paragraph 4 when the “fudge factor” is described and related to real life acts. The “fudge factor” is relatable to college students because people think if people don’t think it’s a really big deal, or because it is so small, they will not get caught which will lead them to do it.
Cheating Lessons, Part 2
This second article revolves around George M. Diekhoff’s studies on cheat habits. This psychologist’s research went to see if people are more willing to cheat if their stakes are higher. He focused on American and Japanese students, to also see if there was a cultural difference in cheating habits. His first finding was that 29% of American students admitted to cheating on at least one exam, while 55% of Japanese students acknowledged to cheating on at least one exam. These results were surprising to Diekhoff. These results were assumed to be the way they are because these Japanese students have only one major exam, which gives them one chance to do well to make their grade high. This, however, is not the same with American students. These American students have multiple exams that go toward their final grade. This means that The Japanese kids are more likely and pressured to cheat on the exam, so they do not fail their course. They American kids are less pressured to cheat on one, single, exam because they have more chances to get their grade up. Diekhoff proved that when the stakes are higher, students are more willing to cheat. The next example in this article included a Chinese civil service exam. This experiment rules stated that they would give a reward, of better income and a stable place in their Chinese Government, to the participant with the highest score. Who wouldn’t want give their all on a test, in order to get a better life? This was a very smart test because , of course, people would do anything to do well on a test and get a stable, safe life. The moral of this story was telling us that students need to be prepared for high stake tests and assignments, by being given lower stake assignments before. People need more practice, with less pressured assignments, before being given something that could make or break their grade/success. To read more in depth about about Diekhoff’s studies, click here.
Cheating Lessons, Part 3
This final article of the series starts off with results of a survey taken by William J. Bowers, taken in 1963. This survey asked students (from 100 different universities) whether they have ever cheated before or done something that goes against academic integrity. The results showed that 75% of the participants in this survey had admitted to cheating before in college, at least once. Since this was old data, it was compared to Donald L. McCabe’s research from his book, “Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do About It”. This book showed data that stated 60-70% of people that were asked if they have cheated, acknowledged that they have before. Here, you can find out more about this survey in paragraphs 4-5. This data was questioned, though, because the data was taken from the internet, instead of a paper survey, like Bowers used. This article then goes on to bring back points from the first two articles: that when a student is taking a high stake exam, their likeliness to cheat is higher. They also explain what is good for students, and what is bad for students. It explains how students learn better and obtain more information when they have multiple low stake assignments (like quizzes, homework, graded assignments) instead of one high stake assignment (such as one large exam or a final/midterm). This is very relatable as a college student and I agree with this statement. This allows the student to get more practice on their material throughout the year, instead of cramming all of the information on one day.
Now, before you think about doing this, think again.
Here is a link for all of you that need some motivation and tips on how to NOT cheat!!!!