Would You Cheat In An Exam If It’s Easy??? Maybe…

Would you look into the next day’s examination paper if it just happened to land on your lap? Would you deny help to your colleague if you don’t have to face him? Would you lie if it didn’t involve much effort on your part? The researchers from the University of Toronto Scarborough believe that you would. They carried out two studies to test the willingness to conduct an immoral act. It was observed that we might behave inappropriately or immorally if the act does not require too much effort on our part.

The Study #1
Two studies were conducted to study the reasons for our bad behavior. In the first one, the participants were asked to take a Math test on a computer. They were divided into two groups. The first group was told that if they press space bar then the answers would automatically appear on the screen. The second group was told that in case the enter key was not pressed by them within five seconds of the appearance of the question; the answer would automatically appear on the screen.
The Finding
According to Micheal Inzlicht, Associate Professor, Psychology, people in the second group who didn’t have to press the button were more likely to cheat. The first group had to press space bar to get the answers whereas for the second group it would appear on its own after five seconds.
The Study #2
In the second study, the participants were asked if they would voluntarily help a student with learning disability complete the test. Again the group was divided into two groups. The first group had to answer the question by checking the “yes” or ”no” boxes that would appear on the screen. The second group had to just press “continue” button to go to the next page if they didn’t want to help. In case they wanted to help the fellow student then they had to follow a link given at the page bottom.
The Findings
It was observed that the second group of participants would find it easier to deny the help. They had to just press the “continue” button to do so. In the first case, it is difficult for us to deny help by explicitly clicking on the “no” button.
The Conclusion

According to Rimma Teper, a PhD student and also the lead author of the study:

  • People would indulge in cheating and other immoral acts if they do not have to perform any explicit action.
  • If human beings can cheat without effort, lie by omission or refuse to help a fellow human being without denying them outrightly, they are likely to do so.
  • When people have to actively choose the right thing or the wrong one, lot of emotions like shame and guilt are involved.
  • In case of a passive choice more people tend to choose the wrong or morally incorrect actions. This is so because the emotional aspect is less intense.


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