Study: Promising to be Honest Keeps Adolescents from Cheating

Category : Education/Family

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. convert / kənˈvɜrt / (v) – to change something into a different form

    In our company, unused paid leave can be converted into cash.

  2. enticing / ɪnˈtaɪ sɪŋ / (adj) – attractive

    The job offer was too enticing to reject.

  3. outcome / ˈaʊtˌkʌm / (n) – the result of something

    I’m happy with the outcome of the election because the candidate I supported won.

  4. binding / ˈbaɪn dɪŋ / (adj) – involving a promise or agreement that cannot be broken

    To make the contract legally binding, both parties should sign it.    

  5. foster / ˈfɔ stər / (v) – to encourage the growth of something

    The new museum and theater were built by the mayor to help foster the arts in the city.


Read the text below.

A recent study found that adolescents who promise to be honest are less likely to cheat in school.

Researchers from the University of Plymouth [PLIMuhth] 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.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the study would have generated the same outcome if the participants weren’t given extra points for promising to be honest? Why or why not?
• Do you agree that promises can be used to foster honesty in academic environments? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think keeping promises is easy or difficult? Discuss.
• Why do you think some people can’t keep their promises? Explain.

Category : Education/Family