Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Effect of Machiavellianism on Business Students' Perception of Cheating

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Effect of Machiavellianism on Business Students' Perception of Cheating

Article excerpt


Academic dishonesty has received considerable attention in the education literature. Research investigated frequency of cheating, as well as situational, demographic and psychological determinants of cheating. Research in cheating has become multidisciplinary because there are some several psychological aspects to cheating. Business students have received additional attention since research showed that classroom cheating was strongly related to workplace cheating (Sims, 1993).

The current study examines demographic and psychological determinants of business students' cheating perception. Specifically, Machiavellianism, a personality disorder characterized by manipulation of others for personal gain, is examined. Demographic factors such as age, gender, class grade and major are also investigated.

The paper is organized as follows: A review of the literature regarding business students and cheating as well as determinants of cheating is presented. This is followed by the study's hypotheses and methodology. Finally, results and conclusions are presented followed by suggestions for future research.


College Students and Cheating

College cheating has received attention in the education and psychology literature. This attention is motivated by the prevalence of such behavior. Generally, research found that cheating in College is less common than cheating in high schools (Lau et al. 2011). However, these findings are not comforting considering that Whitley (1998) found that about 70% of college students in all disciplines admitted to cheating at least once during their college years. More recently, Yardley et al. (2009) surveyed alumni of several universities and found that 82% of respondents cheated at least once during their undergraduate years. Over the years, cheating has evolved from simply copying someone's homework or buying a term paper to more sophisticated schemes involving texting and creative plagiarism (Liebler 2012).

College cheating has many negative consequences. McCabe et al. (2006) noted that not only the cheater suffers negative consequences such as punishment and loss of reputation but noncheaters can also suffer as a result of the cheater's behavior. For example, pervasive cheating in a university can result in stricter standards and less flexibility offered to all students as well as greater faculty distrust of all students. In addition, the overall reputation of the university can also suffer (McCabe et al. 2006). More serious consequences can occur if college cheating was a predictor of workplace or personal cheating. Although many undergraduate students disagree with this theory and argue that college cheating is only temporary (Reall et al. 1998), research shows some truth to this relationship. Students who cheated in college were more likely to shoplift (Beck and Ajzen, 1991), cheat on their income taxes (Fass, 1990) and engage in unethical workplace behavior (Nonis and Swift 2001).

Determinants of College Cheating

Three types of determinants of college cheating have been advocated: Situational, demographical and psychological. In general, increased class sizes, decreased surveillance, and close seating arrangements have been important factors in the frequency of student cheating (Whitley, 1998).

Demographic factors have also emerged as predictors of cheating. For example, younger students have been found to cheat more often compared to older students (Schuhmann et al. 2013). Hunt and Vitell (1986) attributed this relationship to older students' development of moral reasoning abilities. Several studies found that female students cheated less often than males (McCabe and Trevino 1997). Tibbetts (1999) reasoned that male students exhibited less self-control than female students regarding cheating, while female students tended to feel more shame if caught cheating. Several studies also found that students with lower GPA tended to cheat more often than higher performing students (Schuhmann et al. …

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