Academic Dishonesty, Self-Control, and General Criminality: A Prospective and Retrospective Study of Academic Dishonesty in a New Zealand University

Ethics and Behavior 22 (2):89 - 112 (2012)


Academic dishonesty is an insidious problem that besets most tertiary institutions, where considerable resources are expended to prevent and manage students' dishonest actions within academia. Using a mixed retrospective and prospective design this research investigated Gottfredson and Hirschi's self-control theory as a possible explanation for academic dishonesty in 264 university students. The relationship between academic dishonesty and general criminality was also examined. A significant but small to moderate relationship between academic dishonesty and general criminality was present, including correlations with general dishonesty, violent crime and drug offending subcategories. These findings suggested that a general criminological theory may be of use in explaining academic dishonesty, but the overall ability of self-control variables to explain academic dishonesty was not strong. Controlled logistic regressions indicated that a significant positive association with academic dishonesty was only present for one of 6 self-control subscales (self-centeredness), and even this association was only present in the prospective study component. A strong relationship between past and future academic dishonesty was present. Implications of the study for institutions are discussed

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