Are you a cheater?

Congratulations! You were accepted to Perfect University. Will you cheat while you’re there? You might be surprised at what the research tells us.

So, at PU, you moved into the dorm, picked up your meal card and signed the cheating policy: one incident and you’re expelled.

No problem.

You’re not a cheater.

This semester, you’re taking German, not because you like it or plan to use it but because it’s a requirement. Your teacher has perfectly braided German hair, big German shoulders, and she never talks in English—which seems fine if you know German, but you have no idea what’s going on.

You study for every test and every quiz but your grade is borderline. If you fail, you’ll be forced to take the class in summer school.

So, you go to her for help but she doesn’t show up for the session, there’s a note on the door, something about bratwurst and beer, downtown.

She does this, you’ve heard.


You walk into class and she announces a pop vocab quiz.

She passes out the five-question quiz, and steps to the doorway to talk to someone, and—just then–you notice there’s a German dictionary in your desk. And, you notice, three students–one is a friend– sitting near you are using German dictionaries they also found in their desks.

What do you do?

Researchers can predict what you’ll do based on specific circumstances–and reactions to them–that repeatedly play out in the academic setting.

Are you likely to use that German dictionary? Geek out on predictions based on Dan Ariely’s work.

Dan Ariely is a professor of behavioral economics and psychology at Duke University. He has Ph.D.s in business administration and psychology. Here’s his TED talk that describes his experiments on cheating.

Then, consider this: Should we simply expel students when they’re caught cheating? Or should we try to mitigate the circumstances that lead them toward it?

Who are YOU today?

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