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Peer Effects in Academic Cheating

37 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2005  

Scott E. Carrell

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

James E. West

Baylor University

Frederick V. Malmstrom

U.S. Air Force Academy

Date Written: November 3, 2005

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Peer Effects, Cheating, Honor Codes

JEL Classification: Z13, D71, C42

Suggested Citation

Carrell, Scott E. and West, James E. and Malmstrom, Frederick V., Peer Effects in Academic Cheating (November 3, 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=842224 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.842224

Scott E. Carrell (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States

James E. West

Baylor University ( email )

Waco, TX 76798
United States
254-710-6126 (Phone)

Frederick V. Malmstrom

U.S. Air Force Academy ( email )

HQ USAFA/DFEG
Colorado Springs, CO 80840-6234
United States

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