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Cheating in Academia: The Relevance of Social Factors

Alessandro Bucciol (), Simona Cicognani and Natalia Montinari ()
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Natalia Montinari: University of Bologna

No 15/2017, Working Papers from University of Verona, Department of Economics

Abstract: We implemented an online anonymous survey targeted to current and former university students, where the interviewed are asked to indicate whether and to what extent they cheated during written exams. We want to learn if cheating is widespread, and if it correlates with social factors such as the level of trust in others, the beliefs about the peers’ dishonesty and perceived level of opportunism in the society. We find that 61% of the respondents report to have cheated once or more. Cheaters are more likely to report that their classmates and friends cheated, and that in general people can be trusted. In contrast, being aware of the sanction, earning top grades and thinking that people are willing to take advantage of others is negatively correlated with self-reported cheating. There is evidence of two different cheating styles: “social cheaters”, who self-report mostly that they have violated the rules interacting with others; “individualistic” cheaters, who self-report mostly that they have used prohibited materials. Only social cheaters seem affected by social factors: they exhibit higher levels of trust and lower levels of perceived opportunism compared to individualistic cheaters, while no differences between the two groups are found when looking at other dimensions.

Keywords: Academic cheating; Honesty; Trust; Online survey (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 D01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur, nep-exp and nep-soc
Date: 2017-10
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