Social Desirability and Honesty

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Running Head: Social Desirability and Honesty

Can Social Desirability Tests Predict Cheating?
Robert Morris University
Casey Abbott
Dr. Tina Kooser
Writing Assignment #1
March 2, 2011

Abstract

Social desirability is a relatively new concept to the world of psychology. Over the years this idea has gained increasing support and has been established as a credible framework for psychological research. Over the past few decades, a great deal of research has been compiled on this idea and its relation to honesty and integrity. These studies use surveys to draw conclusions about possible psychological and inherent characteristics associated with cheating in school. However, this study will use a real life scenario coupled with the Crowne-Marlowe Social desirability test (a world leading reliable test in the matter) to determine if a correlation between the two exists.

Can Social Desirability Tests Predict Cheating?
Social desirability is a relatively new concept to the world of psychology. Over the years this idea has gained increasing support and has been established as a credible framework for psychological research. In 1960, Crowne and Marlowe succeeded in identifying and investigating behaviors that individuals exhibit toward others in an attempt to make a good impression. They established that these behaviors are an attempt to positively portray oneself using exaggeration and denial; “They attempted to extract these behaviors from extant personality inventories” (Moss, 2008). Crowne and Marlowe introduced a scale to determine the extent to which people alter their image to more closely fit social norms or enhance others perception of them. In this study, the Crowne-Marlowe Social Desirability Test will be used to predict the likelihood that a student will cheat on an exam. A controlled experiment will be conducted using two groups of students, both high school and college undergraduate. The goal of the experiment is to identify students who tested higher in the social desirability index and determine if their results correlate with academic dishonesty. While many researchers have used surveys in their experiment, this study will use controlled circumstances to achieve results. The social desirability test should reveal a positive correlation between social desirability and the probability of cheating, however, many factors come into play when attempting to verify that a student has in fact cheated on an exam.

“Since 1941, academic dishonesty has been recognized in the professional literature as a serious problem” (Thorne-Figueroa, 2010). Some believe that cheating is a result of upbringing, other contest that it is socially and culturally based. However, these generalizations do not identify determining factors, they are merely hasty conclusions. Jacqueline Thorne-Figueroa conducted research on this matter, hypothesizing that personality types A and B contribute to cheating. In Jacqueline’s experiment, her independent variable was personality type. The dependent variable was cheating behavior. She asked volunteer students to take a number of surveys to categorize them based on attitude toward cheating. She used the Crowne-Marlowe Social Desirability test as well as the Survey for Cheating Behavior in the experiment. Upon testing the hypothesis, Jacqeuline observed no association between the variables. What is interesting about this research is her findings on social desirability and its connection to cheating. “C-M SDS attitudes of social desirability were found to be significantly associated with cheating behaviors on the SCB” (Thorne-Figueroa, 2010). Jacqueline’s findings hold a great deal of weight with respect to this experiment, although, she used results from a survey to operationally define cheating.

A large component of this experiment is discovering the level of integrity within each participant. Arlene Green attempts to better understand integrity and its dimensions in her...
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