A Novel Methodological Approach to Measuring Cheating Behaviors Open Access

Ren, Zhiying (Bella) (Spring 2020)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/db78td198?locale=en


The present study proposed a new method to measure cheating behaviors and study traits related to cheating. A total of 544 participants were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk to participate in the study. A computer-graded question was used to evaluate participants’ actual knowledge about a subject; a self-graded question was used to evaluate what participants self-report knowing about the same subject. A monetary incentive was provided, and participants had the opportunity to earn more by misreporting. An inconsistency between participants’ actual knowledge and their reported knowledge suggests potential cheating behaviors. To evaluate the method’s validity, the study investigated whether cheaters identified by the method also consistently cheat more in other behavioral games. The method was then used to investigate the relationship between cheating and demographic variables of interest. Cheating was found to be significantly correlated with political extremity. For cheating’s relationships with other variables, data analyses revealed associations consistent with expectations, though not at a significant level. The method was then used to examine the cognitive mechanisms behind self-serving and altruistic cheating. Results showed that people were significantly more likely to cheat for themselves than for charity donations. Meanwhile, cheating for an altruistic cause was not associated with a significantly higher increase in self-perceived morality. This study contributed to the existing literature by providing a novel and reliable method for investigating research questions related to unethical behaviors. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction.. 1

Study 1. 6

Method. 8

Results. 16

Discussion. 22

Study 2. 24

Method. 26

Results. 27

Discussion. 28

General Discussion. 30

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files