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Monday, November 18, 2013

Inside the Cheater's Mind

By Maria Konnikova
The New Yorker
Originally published October 31, 2013

A few years ago, acting on a tip, school administrators at Great Neck North High School, a prominent, academically competitive public school in Long Island, took a closer look at students’ standardized test scores. Some of them seemed suspiciously high. What’s more, some of the high scorers had registered to take the test well outside their home district. When the Educational Testing Service conducted a handwriting analysis on the suspect exams, they concluded that the same person had taken multiple tests, registering each time under a different name. In November, 2011, twenty students from schools in Nassau County were arrested and accused of cheating. The arrests, combined with the social prominence of the school and its students, made the case one of the most prominent cheating scandals in recent history.

When a student sits down at a test, he knows how to cheat, in principle. But how does he decide whether or not he’ll actually do it? Is it logic? An impulse? A subconscious reaction to the adrenaline in his blood and the dopamine in his brain? People cheat all the time. But why, exactly, do they decide to do it in the first place?

The entire story is here.

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