Lotsof, Erwin||Shybut, John
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Psychology
Learning; Psychology of; Student ethics
Cheating in the classroom is the cause of much concern for both teachers and students. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between several personality variables and cheating behavior in order to discover some possible reasons for its occurrence. The hypotheses for the study were derived from Rotter's Social Learning Theory. According to Social Learning Theory, the potentiality for a behavior to occur in a particular situation is a function of expectancy and reinforcement value. Expectancy refers to the probability held by a person that the behavior will lead to a reinforcement in the situation, and reinforcement value refers to a person's preference for one reinforcement relative to another reinforcement which is also available to him in the situation. Social Learning Theory conceptualizes maladaptive behavior as occurring under conditions of low expectancy and high reinforcement value; that is, when a person has a low expectation of obtaining a reinforcement that he desires. On the basis of this conceptualization of maladaptive behavior, two hypotheses were proposed concerning the occurrence of cheating which was the maladaptive behavior of interest in the present study. The first hypothesis proposed that cheating will occur more frequently when expectancy for success is low than when expectancy for success is high. The second hypothesis proposed that cheating will occur more frequently on a test with high reinforcement value than on a test with low reinforcement value. The other two hypotheses investigated in the present study involved the internal-External control construct which was developed within the framework of Social Learning Theory. On the basis of previous research which suggested a relationship between the Internal-External control construct and cheating, it was hypothesized that cheating will occur more frequently among externally oriented people than among internally oriented people and that externally oriented people will be more likely than internally oriented people to deny having cheated. The methodology employed in the present study was as follows. The subjects were administered the first required test in a course, and the grade each subject received on this test was used as an index of his expectancy for success on a subsequent test in the course. Six weeks later, the subjects took the second required course test which was considered to have high reinforcement value since it was directly related to the goal of passing the course. After taking the second required course test, the subjects were administered a general information "intelligence" test which was considered to have low reinforcement value since it had no perceptible relation to future success in the course. A week after taking the second course test and the intelligence test, the subjects were asked to score both of these tests themselves. However, unknown to the subjects, both tests had been scored by the experimenter. If the score recorded by a subject was two or more points greater than the score recorded by the experimenter, the subject was said to have cheated. If the score recorded by a subject was the same as the score recorded by the experimenter, the subject was said to have not cheated. The results were as follows. First, subjects with a low expectancy for success resulting from a low grade on the first course test cheated in significantly greater numbers on the second course test than subjects with a high expectancy for success resulting from a high grade on the first course test. In addition, subjects whose grade and expectancy were between the above two extreme expectancy groups fell between these two extreme groups with respect to the number who cheated. Second, more subjects cheated on the test with high reinforcement value than on the test with low reinforcement value. Third, the number of externally oriented subjects who cheated was, in general, greater than the number of internally oriented subjects who cheated. However, there was no difference between the number of externally oriented subjects and the number of internally oriented subjects who denied having cheated. Finally, some sex differences were found with respect to cheating, but these differences depended on the type of test. Possible implications of the above results were discussed and further research in the area was suggested.
Hosek, James C., "Cheating as a function of expectancy, internal-external control, and type of task" (1970). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 1769.
Northern Illinois University
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