Kids Who Cheat Become Adults Who Cheat

Students who cheat in school are likely to continue with that deceitful behavior as adults in the workplace, new research shows.

The University of Minnesota study found a significant correlation between students who reported dishonest behavior during college and their behavior at work.

"It doesn't seem like the two are very independent of each other," Nathan Kuncel, the study's co-author, told BusinessNewsDaily. "(That poor behavior) tends to carry over."

The study was a meta-analysis, combining previous studies on the subject in order to obtain more robust results. Overall, the study reviewed research involving more than 1,500 people.

Among the types of cheating examined were increasing the margins or typeface to make a paper seem longer, telling an instructor a false reason for missing a class or exam, obtaining questions to an exam from an unauthorized person before a test, writing a paper for someone else and preparing cheat sheets.

Those types of unethical actions in college were found to carry over into the workplace in the forms of taking long lunches, telling an employer a fake reason for missing work, writing a report for a co-worker, filling out a false expense report and presenting the ideas of co-workers as their own.

"I was surprised that the relationship was as strong as it was, particularly given that people aren't often willing to self-report this type of behavior," Kuncel said.

The research has implications for employers, especially concerning job candidates who have records of academic dishonesty in their past. Based on the research, Kuncel said hiring managers might want to look for someone else, since those candidates probably won't make the best hires in the long run.

"There is good evidence that (the fraudulent behavior) will continue to play out," he said.

The study, "Counterproductive Work Behavior and Academic Dishonesty: A Meta-analysis," was co-authored by Jacob Gau.

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