Monday, October 28, 2013

Cheating, Part 2

Research has concluded that members of a species were more or less likely to cheat based on the relative size of the brain’s neocortex. (See Why We Cheat by Fang and Casadevall.)  No surprise—based on a relatively large neocortex—studies have shown that humans are surprising quick to cheat if the environmental circumstances are conducive to cheating. Moreover, cheating can spread through copycat behavior. This type of infectiousness, sometimes referred to a social contagion, may help explain the high prevalence of cheating in relatively small groups of people. For example, 125 Harvard students were recently under investigation for cheating on a final examination. (More than half these students were told to withdraw from school for up to a year as punishment.) Seeing someone else cheat without apparent consequences strongly encourages others to do the same. In another study, subjects were three times as likely to cheat when an assistant posing as a cheating student was also present. Unchecked dishonesty can even promote the perception that one must cheat to remain competitive.  Fortunately, not everyone is equally likely to cheat, however.

No comments: