Cheating has become commonplace in academia and beyond. Yet, almost everyone views themselves favorably, believing that they are honest, trustworthy, and of high integrity. We investigate one possible explanation for this apparent discrepancy between people’s actions and their favorable self-concepts: People who cheat on tests believe that they knew the answers all along. We found consistent correlational evidence across three studies that, for those particular cases in which participants likely cheated, they were more likely to report that they knew the answers all along. Experimentally, we then found that participants were more likely to later claim that they knew the answers all along after having the opportunity to cheat to find the correct answers – relative to exposure to the correct answers without the opportunity to cheat. These findings provide new insights into relationships between memory, metacognition, and the self-concept.
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95% CIs around beta-values offer, on our view, the best available indication of effect size for LMER models.
Based on these descriptive statistics, it is worth noting that participants in control condition almost never answered the difficult questions correctly. This accords with what we expected based on pre-testing. These descriptive statistics further suggest that participants in the control condition did not cheat by searching for the answers on the internet. We suspect this is because searching for the answers on the internet requires time and effort, and far more time and effort than just glancing at the bottom of the screen as in the cheating condition. As such, our control condition is sufficient to prevent cheating, at least in the vast majority of cases.
Note that we added this attention-check question after we pre-registered this study. This was the only deviation from the pre-registration. We came to believe this attention check would be important for ensuring that participants understood how they were supposed to make prior knowledge judgments.
Because we recruited our participants from AMT and Lucid, we believe that we can make stronger generalizations about the role of cheating in boosting the knew-it-all-along effect than we could have with convenience samples comprised of undergraduate students.
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Stanley, M.L., Stone, A.R. & Marsh, E.J. Cheaters claim they knew the answers all along. Psychon Bull Rev (2020). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-020-01812-w
- Moral psychology
- Hindsight bias