Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 441–453 | Cite as

Why Do College Students Cheat?

  • Mark G. SimkinEmail author
  • Alexander McLeod


More is known about the pervasiveness of college cheating than reasons why students cheat. This article reports the results of a study that applied the theory of reasoned action and partial least squares methodology to analyze the responses of 144 students to a survey on cheating behavior. Approximately 60% of the business students and 64% of the non-business students admitted to such behavior. Among cheaters, a “desire to get ahead” was the most important motivating factor – a surprising result given the comprehensive set of factors tested in the study. Among non-cheaters, the presence of a “moral anchor” such as an ethical professor was most important. The article also includes a set of important caveats that might limit this study and suggests some avenues for further study.


cheating ethical behavior student dishonesty student misconduct theory of reasoned action 


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The authors wish to thank the editors and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions in revising earlier drafts of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Business AdministrationUniversity of NevadaRenoU.S.A.

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