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Ohio Study Shows Narcisism is Associated with Cheating


A new study from Ohio State University is suggesting that students who cheat tend to have narcissistic tendencies. According the the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, narcisism is a personality disorder that includes a pervasive pattern of grandiosity or need for admiration, and lack of empathy. This pattern of self-centered or egotistical behavior shows up in thinking and behavior in a lot of different situations and activities.

"Narcissists really want to be admired by others, and you look good in college if you're getting good grades," said Amy Brunell, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University at Newark.

The results from the study shows that narcissist people were motivated to cheat because they wanted to show off their academic performance functions. The study also found that these students also didn't feel guilty about their actions.

"They also tend to feel less guilt, so they don't mind cheating their way to the top." She continues to say "Narcissists feel the need to maintain a positive self-image and they will sometimes set aside ethical concerns to get what they want."

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Brunell and her collegues studied 199 college students. They compiled a scale that measured narcissism by choosing statements such as "I am not better or no worse than most people" or "I think I am a special person." Researcheres also measured self-esteem and guilt respsonses. Finally researchers then asked how often they cheated.

What the team of researchers discovered was narcissism was linked to cheating."We found that one of the more harmless parts of narcissism -- exhibitionism -- is most associated with academic cheating, which is somewhat surprising," she said.

"You would think that the belief that you are a special person and that you can do what you want would be associated with cheating," Brunell said. "But instead, we're finding that it is the desire to show off that really seems to drive cheating."

"One argument might be that narcissists are admitting to cheating, but saying that everyone else does it, too. But that's not what we found. Narcissists actually report more cheating for themselves than they do for others," Brunell explained.

She also explained that narcissism is linked to cheating self-esteem was not. "People with higher levels of self-esteem are probably more confident in their abilities and don't feel any peer pressure to cheat," she said.

Ohio State University
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, 1994