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Cheating Among College Students

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Cheating behavior of university students was investigated in a two-instrument study. In this study, 41 students evaluated the acceptability of an act of dishonesty under 24 different circumstances where a person's motive for transgressing differed. Results indicated that college students took motives into account when evaluating the acceptability of cheating. Acceptance of cheating behavior was expected to be more common among male students than females and younger students than older students.


In the past most research on cheating and cheating acceptance is done in an academic profile. Since this study focuses on four different categories; academics, sports, relationships and work it was difficult to relate the findings with previous studies. However, there is significant evidence that has shown the subtle nature of cheating among college students is increasing in all aspects of life (Baird, 1980; McCabe,1992). Cheating is defined as an act of deception, fraud, trickery, imposture, or imposition (Callahan, 2004). Cheating is used to create an unfair advantage, usually in one's own interest, and often at the expense of others. Cheating most generally implies the breaking of rules. The most common venue for cheating is education. A 2005 survey by the Center for Academic Integrity reported that 70% of American college students admitted to some cheating. The survey indicated that cheating is also a problem in high schools, where 60% of students in public and parochial schools admitted to plagiarism. There were even some instances where teachers and school administrators have been implicated in cheating on tests to improve their students' scores. Generally, an exaggerated emphasis on the significance of performance test scores triggers the motivation to cheat among some individuals. According to the survey the older students are more likely to cheat, or at least admit to cheating.

Another venue where cheating has been researched and remains common is in sports. While the rules of competition are arbitrary, an agreement exists among participants that they will play by the rules and avoid unfair measures to win. Cheaters violate the spirit and the letter of the rules of competition. A prevalent instance is the current epidemic of performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids and other forms of doping by athletes. Such tactics imply cheating even when not explicitly against the rules, as it gives both an unnatural and unfair advantage to the user. Attempting to intentionally injure an opponent is an instance of poor sportsmanship that borders on cheating. Many of these instances are gender specific, that focus on men more often than women allowing one to assume that men are more likely to cheat as well as more likely to accept the behavior in others.



Undergraduate students (N=41) from a medium sized business and liberal arts University in the Omaha metropolitan area participated in the study. On the basis of those who



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