Peer Effects in Academic Cheating
Scott E. Carrell
University of California, Davis - Department of Economics
James E. West
Frederick V. Malmstrom
U.S. Air Force Academy
November 3, 2005
Using self-reported academic honor violations from the classes of 1959 through 2002 at the three major U.S. military service academies (Air Force, Army, and Navy), we measure how peer honesty influences individual cheating behavior. All else equal, we find higher levels of peer cheating result in a substantially increased probability that an individual will cheat. We identify through separate estimation procedures an exogenous (contextual or pre-treatment) peer effect and an endogenous (during treatment) peer effect. Results for the (first-order) exogenous peer effect indicate that one additional high school cheater creates 0.33 to 0.48 new college cheaters. Results for the (first-order) endogenous peer effect indicate that one additional college cheater creates 0.55 to 0.80 new college cheaters. These results imply, in equilibrium, the social multiplier for academic cheating ranges between 2.20 to 4.90. We also find evidence that the peer effect should be thought of as an evolving social norm of toleration versus congestion in enforcement of honor codes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Peer Effects, Cheating, Honor Codes
JEL Classification: Z13, D71, C42
Date posted: November 11, 2005
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