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Title: Taking the Path of Least Resistance: The Effects of Cognitive Load and Peer Descriptive Norms on Cheating Behavior
Authors: Hoffman, David
Advisors: Shafir, Eldar
Contributors: Taylor, Jordan
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: The literature has established that we, as humans, are prone to cheating, but a firm conclusion has not yet been reached regarding the question of whether the act of cheating is cognitively taxing. That is to say, does it take mental effort to act immorally or is it an inherent tendency? We took the research question one step further by pairing the traditional cognitive load manipulation, which is generally used to induce an automatic response, with a peer norm manipulation aimed at either licensing or prohibiting cheating behavior depending on the condition. 45 Princeton University Undergraduates completed a variation of the popular die-under-cup paradigm in which participants were tasked to complete a die rolling task while under varying degrees of cognitive load. Our results indicate that cheating behavior occurs only when participants have ample cognitive capacity available and a salient justification strategy is present. However, we find it difficult to make any claims regarding the automaticity of cheating behavior and instead find our “automatic” response to be malleable. In this way, we assert that our decision to cheat is simply based on the contextual “path of least resistance.”
Extent: 53 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2017

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