Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

A Reevaluation and Extension of the Motivation and Cheating Model

Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

A Reevaluation and Extension of the Motivation and Cheating Model

Article excerpt


This study reassesses the relations between exam-related cheating behavior and its antecedents proposed in Smith et al.'s (2009) Motivation and Cheating Model. Specifically, it calculates whether the significant relations measured in the referent study among motivational factors, academic performance, prior cheating, neutralization tendencies, and likelihood of future cheating, hold with an independent undergraduate student sample. By doing so, this study directly addresses Stout and Rebele's (1996. pp. 4-5) admonition that knowledge is created by producing generalizable findings which cannot be accomplished in a single study. Subsequent analyses extend the referent model by incorporating alienation as an additional exogenous cheating antecedent. The premise for this aspect of the investigation is that both motivation and attitude, the latter represented by alienation and neutralization, may contribute toward the cheating behavior dynamic.

Using structural equation modeling procedures on data obtained from 342 finance majors at three public AACSB-accredited business schools, we conduct independent assessments of the validity of the referent model and the extended model which incorporated alienation as an exogenous predictor of the above-referenced dependent constructs. The replication results support several of the significant relations uncovered in the referent study. The extension supports the conceptual distinctiveness of the motivation and alienation constructs, as well as the proposition that both are significant exogenous predictors of performance and cheating proclivities.

Key words: Cheating behavior, motivation, alienation, neutralization

Data availability: Those interested in utilizing subsets of the data collected for this study should contact the first author.


Academic dishonesty on college campuses has been an ongoing issue for many years, attracting attention from faculty and administrators, as well as the media. In perhaps the largest study of its kind, involving over 80,000 students and 12,000 faculty members from 83 US and Canadian campuses, McCabe (2005) reported high levels of self-reported cheating behavior, confirming earlier studies (e.g., McCabe and Trevino, 1995a). A major concern regarding collegeage cheating behavior is that unethical behaviors exhibited during college years may eventually carry over to the workplace, as recent studies have suggested (e.g., see Nonis and Swift, 2001. pp. 74-75; Granitz and Loewy, 2007. p. 293).

McCabe (2005) also found that business students cheat more often than non-business students, confirming findings by Baird (1980), McCabe and Trevino (1995b), and Rettinger and Jordan (2005). Crown and Spiller (1998. p. 690) noted that these findings are consistent with the literature on business ethics, which indicates that business students seem to be more tolerant of unethical behavior than their non-business peers. Similarly, Klein et al. (2006) found that business students have a less stringent attitude about what constitutes cheating, compared to other professional school students. Findings such as these, coupled with the potential of unethical behavior permeating from college years to the workplace, are particularly worrisome issues for accounting and finance students.

Smith et al. (2002) note that the public relies on accountants to "track their investments, complete their taxes, and generally protect them from potentially devastating financial and legal mistakes" (p. 46). Similarly, the public relies on finance professionals to exhibit complete honesty, reliability and ethical behavior, and generally to exercise fiduciary responsibility to protect clients' assets. These expectations are reflected in the ethics rules and expectations for professionals in these fields. Unfortunately, recent events (e.g., the 2008 Financial Meltdown), including the numerous highly publicized business scandals over the past decade, have shaken the public trust in both accounting and finance professionals. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.