Personality, attitude, and demographic correlates of academic dishonesty: A meta-analysis.

Samuel D. Lee, Nathan R. Kuncel, Jacob Gau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Over a century of research has focused on the relationship between student characteristics and academic dishonesty. Here we conduct a meta-analysis of this extensive literature across three broad domains: personality, academic attitudes, and historical information including demographic and prior accomplishments. After analyzing correlations from over 27,000 participants across 75 samples, several relationships stand out. Although measures of conscientiousness (ρ¯ = −.25) and agreeableness (ρ¯ = −.13) from the popular five-factor model demonstrate important relationships with dishonesty, equal or greater effects were found for specific personality scales including impulsivity (ρ¯ = .39) and psychopathy (ρ¯ = .40). Both morality (ρ¯ = −.24) and academic self-efficacy (ρ¯ = −.28) were related to less dishonest behavior but demonstrated substantially smaller effects than measures of neutralization (ρ¯ = .43), a tendency to justify and deflect immoral behavior as reasonable given the circumstances. Hypotheses were developed and results are framed by two competing models of academic dishonesty. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved) Public Significance Statement—This study examined how the personality, values, and demographic characteristics of students are related to engaging in academically dishonest behaviors during college. Many characteristics are related to academic dishonesty with the impulsivity, morality, and a tendency to justify inappropriate behavior as being understandable demonstrating the largest reliable effects. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1058
Number of pages17
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association


  • academic dishonesty
  • academic integrity
  • cheating
  • meta-analysis
  • personality

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Meta-Analysis


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