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Laboratory measure of cheating predicts school misconduct


  • Alain Cohn
  • Michel André Maréchal


Laboratory experiments provide insights into the drivers of cheating behaviour, but it is unclear to what extent cheating in the lab generalizes to the field. We conducted an experiment with middle and high school students to test whether a common laboratory measure of cheating predicts three types of school misconduct: (i) disruptiveness in class, (ii) homework non-completion, and (iii) absenteeism. We find that students who cheat in the experimental task are more likely to misbehave at school, suggesting that experimental measures of cheating generalize to rule violating behaviour in naturally occurring environments.

Suggested Citation

  • Alain Cohn & Michel André Maréchal, 2015. "Laboratory measure of cheating predicts school misconduct," ECON - Working Papers 205, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Nov 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:205

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cingl, Lubomír & Korbel, Václav, 2020. "External validity of a laboratory measure of cheating: Evidence from Czech juvenile detention centers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    2. Grosch, Kerstin & Rau, Holger A., 2017. "Gender differences in honesty: The role of social value orientation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 258-267.
    3. Alan, Sule & Ertac, Seda & Gumren, Mert, 2020. "Cheating and incentives in a performance context: Evidence from a field experiment on children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 681-701.
    4. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant, 2018. "It's Not A Lie If You Believe It. Lying and Belief Distortion Under Norm-Uncertainty," PPE Working Papers 0012, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    5. Kai A. Konrad & Tim Lohse & Sven A. Simon, 2020. "Pecunia Non Olet: on the Self-selection Into (Dis)honest Earning Opportunities," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2020-14_2, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    6. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant & Silvia Sonderegger, 2020. "It's Not a Lie If You Believe the Norm Does Not Apply: Conditional Norm-Following with Strategic Beliefs," CESifo Working Paper Series 8059, CESifo.
    7. Heike Hennig‐Schmidt & Hendrik Jürges & Daniel Wiesen, 2019. "Dishonesty in health care practice: A behavioral experiment on upcoding in neonatology," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(3), pages 319-338, March.
    8. Olaf Hübler & Melanie Koch & Lukas Menkhoff & Ulrich Schmidt, 2019. "Cheating and Corruption: Evidence from a Household Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1826, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Ariely, Dan & Garcia-Rada, Ximena & Gödker, Katrin & Hornuf, Lars & Mann, Heather, 2019. "The impact of two different economic systems on dishonesty," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 179-195.
    10. Casal, Sandro & Filippin, Antonio, 2020. "The Effect of Observing Multiple Private Information Outcomes on the Inclination to Cheat," IZA Discussion Papers 13689, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Margarita Leib & Nils C. Kobis & Rainer Michael Rilke & Marloes Hagens & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2021. "The corruptive force of AI-generated advice," Papers 2102.07536,
    12. Alessandro Bucciol & Simona Cicognani & Natalia Montinari, 2020. "Cheating in university exams: the relevance of social factors," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 67(3), pages 319-338, September.
    13. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Mussweiler, Thomas & Saxler, David J. & Shalvi, Shaul & Weiss, Alexa, 2020. "Similarity increases collaborative cheating," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 148-173.
    14. He, Haoran & Jiang, Shuguang, 2020. "Partisan culture, identity and corruption: An experiment based on the Chinese Communist Party," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    15. Barron, Kai, 2019. "Lying to appear honest," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2019-307, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.

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    More about this item


    Cheating; honesty; experiment; external validity; misconduct;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


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