Politics: where absolutely anything is OK as long as the right team does it.

Does everyone cheat?


The other reason to exercise leniency is that everybody cheats. In a comprehensive set of studies done in the 1920's, the psychologists Hugh Hartshorne and M.A. May watched schoolchildren between the ages of 8 and 16 take a variety of different tests. What they found was both shocking and obvious: virtually every child was willing to cheat under certain conditions.
Permalink son of parnas 
September 4th, 2006 1:29pm
The last time I cheated was when I was 8, so I suppose I can't dodge this particular bullet.

I'd be more interested in cheating percentages at various age cohorts.

I do seem to recall some evidence that undergrad liberal arts majors cheated less than science and engineering majors (and no, I can't back this up with a reference, so take it for what little it's worth). Indeed , this matches my own observations; the engineering students at a couple of universities I attended had an essentially "wink wink" policy regarding cheating.
Permalink Send private email Mongo 
September 4th, 2006 1:45pm
Would people still cheat if results weren't being measured?
Permalink son of parnas 
September 4th, 2006 1:47pm
Mongo, could part of the reason be that it's much easier to cheat in an engineering curriculum than a liberal arts one?

On an engineering exam, everyone's answer is *supposed* to look the same...
Permalink Send private email Philo 
September 4th, 2006 1:48pm
Hard to imagine what their motivation would be to do so, I should think.

<flashback to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance>
Permalink Send private email Mongo 
September 4th, 2006 1:49pm
That last weas to SoP, if it's not obvious.

Philo, I don;t know, but I don't think so, really. It's actually very easy to cheat on an essay (and was even more so then), plagiarization is difficult to avoid even with the best of intentions. Not to mention, there are enoguh multiple choice exams, overlap of classes into quantitiative fields, etc.

I've speculated it's partly that people who have chosen majors like history, english, philosophy, etc. are perhaps more motivated by wanting to learn, as a group, than those for whom the educational process is essentially a vocational school (I'm talking to you, engineers).

Obviously, counter-examples abound: lots of history majors essentially "pre-law", lots of engineers who find the domain itself fascinating.
Permalink Send private email Mongo 
September 4th, 2006 1:56pm

p. 228

"For example, women majoring in engineering, a major one might have considered male-dominated a few decades ago, talk about the need to compete by the “men’s rules” to be successful in this major. Thus, generally higher levels of cheating were found among women in engineering compared to women in other majors, and women majoring in engineering reported cheating at rates comparable to men majoring
in engineering."
Permalink Send private email Mongo 
September 4th, 2006 2:10pm
Study from one 2 year college.


Major                Cheated     

Business              0.60     
Education            0.46     
Health Professions    0.41     
Math/Science          0.42   
Social Science        0.38   
Undeclared            0.39     
Mean                  0.46     
[chi square]        12.519   
p value              -0.085
Permalink Send private email Mongo 
September 4th, 2006 2:20pm
Everyone cheats (or steals) under the right conditions - being below the curve, as the article hints, is especially inticing. After all it's not fair that one person is smarter, richer or more handsome than another. It just isn't equitable. Cheating is simply a way to regage an unequal system (it does take some smarts to cheat and get away with it).

Getting rid of academic test measurements would just get rid of any semblance of a meritocracy (even an imperfect one). It's not like a new metric (how much your money daddy has, say) wouldn't jump into place.
Permalink Send private email just me 
September 4th, 2006 2:49pm
To my recall, I never cheated in college.  High school, OTOH...

Another aspect of this is generally unethical behavior.  I had a roommate (business major) who when an assignment was handed out, would immediately go to the library and check out the books he needed.  The ones he didn't need, he would reshelve on another floor to deny them to his classmates.  They would find a huge empty hole on the shelves when they would get around to looking up references for their papers.
Permalink xampl 
September 4th, 2006 3:23pm
I didn't cheat but I did observe that most other students do cheat. While they were off stealing exams and trying to figure out the answers in advance, I studied.

So I would get As and they would get Cs on the tests, since the answers they agreed on with each other were often wrong.

Often I'd get invited to join their groups. "We have the test." they would say. I would pass. They knew I would be able to figure out the right answers. But what would doing that and giving them the answers do for me? Nothing.
Permalink Stanley Milgram 
September 5th, 2006 3:16am

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