Why Do Students Cheat in Exams? | The Concept of Predictable Irrationality

Why We Cheat? | The Concept of Predictable Irrationality
By Ahmad Amirali

Yesterday one of my students, who is in now in high school, came to me, sharing the good news about his achievement in a school exam. As conversation proceeds, he asked me ‘sir why do we cheat? What difference does it make if a person succeeded by cheating others and a person who did not cheat at all? Well, this question is not new to me as the pupils usually ask when they caught up doing cheating in exams or observe any cheating in the classroom. However, this question reminds me of a year old TEDx video of Dan Ariely, who shared his hospital experience when he severely burnt and talked about the concept of ‘Predictable Irrationality’.

What is Predictable Irrationality? It means a person is very well aware of his/her decision(s) and the repercussions of that decision; still, the person wants to make that decision. Cheating is one of that kind of decisions which students, as well as adults, made when they want to achieve something or when things are getting ‘wrong’. One may ask, what encourage us to cheat? According to Dan Ariely, its all about duration and intensity, i.e. how much time we have to complete any given task or target and at what strength we are working on that target.

Similarly, why we get caught during cheating? Again, it’s based on the cheating approach and the probability to get caught. However, what encourages us to cheat? It is believed the most influential factors behind that decision is the social dynamics and the assumption which we made during exams that ‘ I am doing right or this action is right according to me’ because ‘everybody is doing the same’ why would I be the part of this ‘Social Decision Making Process’.

The Video is 18 minutes long; however, the part between 00:00:00 to 00:13:00 is more related to this topic.

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