Graduation Year


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Faculty Advisor

Karen Lionello-DeNolf


Stress, Academic cheating, Self-control, GPA


The purpose of this study was to examine why academic cheating occurs. Prior studies have investigated students’ reasons for their academic cheating, and this study aimed to further this research by trying to determine variables that might influence the behavior. A total of 56 Assumption University undergraduate students participated. Self-report measures included the Survey on Academic Dishonesty (SAD) (McCabe & Trevino, 1997), the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen et al., 1983), and a measure of self-control (Tangney et al., 2004). In addition, a novel probability discounting task was created as a second measure of academic cheating. This task assessed participants’ likelihood of cheating across various probabilities of getting caught, in both a classroom and an online setting. The results showed a significant positive correlation between academic cheating and stress and a significant negative correlation between stress and self-control. There was also a significant correlation between the classroom probability discounting task and academic dishonesty, self-control, and the online probability discounting task. These results suggest that stress is an important factor in academic dishonesty. The data also support use of the novel probability discounting task as a measure of academic cheating in university settings.