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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lemm, Kristi M., 1971-

Second Advisor

Czopp, Alex

Third Advisor

Devenport, Jennifer


A recent survey demonstrated that over 80% of students admitted to having engaged in academic dishonesty at least once in their time at University (Macaulay & Lemm, 2014). Previous research examining why students cheat has brought to light many different potential reasons behind students’ academically dishonest behavior (McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 1999; Curasi, 2013). The present set of studies aimed to examine three potential factors behind why students engage in academic dishonesty. Study 1 examined whether or not high Socioeconomic Status (SES) primes would elicit higher cheating likelihood ratings in a hypothetical scenario. Study 2 examined whether high levels of academic stress and job pressure would increase participants’ cheating likelihood ratings. Further, Study 2 also examined whether participants would perceive a cheating action as less morally wrong when it was committed under academic stress or job pressure in comparison to no stress or pressure. Results indicated that SES priming had no effect on cheating likelihood. Both academic stress and job pressure predicted increased cheating likelihood ratings in different samples. The relation between academic stress and cheating likelihood ratings was mediated by moral appraisal. The results support the idea that justification of unethical behavior predicts increased cheating likelihood. Future research will focus on applying these results to prevention of academic dishonesty.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Cheating (Education)--United States; College students--Economic conditions; College students--Social conditions; College students--Effect of stress on; College students--United States--Conduct of life; College students--United States--Attitudes

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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