Why People Cheat?

Published 22 May 2017

Research Question: Why do people cheat and what are its effects?

Thesis: Cheating has been a longstanding dilemma among people. It can be said that it is virtually impossible for a group of people to be free from cheating, or at least the temptation to do so. The age-old adage honesty is the best policy is now passe, with the height of cheating and deceit on the rise in all its forms imaginable. However, relationships, integrity, and values are being overtaken, making it essential for people to know why cheating occurs in an attempt to avoid it. This will hopefully save the stakes at hand.

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Abstract: In this paper I will be discussing cheating and why it is important to understand its forms, effects, and the ways in which people can avoid it. Cheating, in a layman’s definition, can be anything that attempts to alter truth or achieving something through a process that is unlawful or immoral. Even if it is generally perceived as immoral, some people who cheat may not feel the negativity of the act and may even justify it. Taking many forms, proper management of cheating is necessary. But before uncovering the techniques on dealing with cheating, the roots of the issue have to be dealt with first. By exhausting primary and secondary sources available such as books, periodicals, and online publications from reputable sites, a thorough study on the background of cheating can be undertaken from which approaches to management can be achieved.


  • I. Introduction

    Definitions of cheating Forms of cheating
    Perceptions towards cheating

  • II. Cycle of cheating
    Reasons behind cheating
    Effects of cheating
    Effects to the one cheating
    Effects to the one being cheated on

  • III. Interventions on cheating
    Avoiding the event of cheating or being cheated on
    Managing a cheater


  • Rettinger, D. et al. “Evaluating the Motivation of Other Students to Cheat: A Vignette Experiment.” 2004. Research in Higher Education, 45 (8) (16 July 2007)
  • There are two main motivations to cheating. The first one is the intrinsic goals, those which are geared towards self-improvement. There are also the extrinsic goals which are geared towards showing others ones achievements. Of the two, cheating have been found among those who have higher extrinsic goals.
  • McCabe, D. et al. “Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research.” 2001. http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci/cpurrin1/plagiarism/docs/McCabe_et_al.pdf (16 July 2007)
  • McCabe seconds the statements of Griffin, saying that in the academic level cheating does not only form through the influence of peer but manifests as a norm among students who are exposed to its rampancy. There are also classified individual factors that cause cheating among students. Comprehensive policies against cheating and lying and highlighting the importance of ethics and virtues are essential to address the problem.
  • White, T. “Why Do the Right Thing, from Why Virtue?” 1991. http://www.ethicsandbusiness.org/pdf/whyvirtue.pdf (16 July 2007)
  • Lying can be rooted from the desire to get additional happiness or contentment even if the means are wrong. While asking why people cheat is easy to answer, asking why people should not do so is a different story. Philosophers argue that people should not cheat because they get something for being ethical, and because upholding virtues is right for the soul.
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