Why Do College Students Cheat?

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to Mark G. Simkin.

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Simkin, M.G., McLeod, A. Why Do College Students Cheat?. J Bus Ethics 94, 441–453 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-009-0275-x

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Keywords

  • cheating
  • ethical behavior
  • student dishonesty
  • student misconduct
  • theory of reasoned action