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A recent study found that adolescents who promise to be honest are less likely to cheat in school.
Researchers from the University of Plymouth [PLIM–uhth] conducted the study with Indian students between 10 and 14 years old.
The study’s participants were asked to play games in which they earned points that could be converted into prizes. One of the games included a box with 16 squares and 16 dice. Participants had to secretly choose one of the squares, then shake the box and record the number of the dice that fell in their chosen spot. Before starting, the students were given a choice to either promise to be honest or not with their self-reported points. To make it enticing to the students, the researchers told them that those who promised to be truthful would receive extra points.
After comparing the students’ self-reported results with statistically expected outcomes, the researchers found that the students who promised to be truthful showed lower cheating rates than those who did not.
Additionally, cheating occurred less in older participants. According to the researchers, this result was consistent with that of previous studies, which found that adolescents cheated less as they got older.
The researchers said that their study confirms that promises have a binding effect on one’s behavior. They added that promises can also be used to foster honesty in academic environments and prevent cheating. This method can be especially useful in academic settings in India, where there is widespread competition and teachers are concerned about cheating.