jesus fish

January 9, 2009

Cheating Sweatshirts

Filed under: Old Testament, Popular Culture — Tags: , , , , , — Karen @ 4:04 am

May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. Psalms 25:21 (NIV)

This interview describes a study which looked at cheating among college students. Participants took a math test and were paid based on their self-reported test score. Researchers also manipulated the environment in an effort to produce more or less ethical behavior.

The students took the test as a group. An actor was hired to play out various scenarios during the sessions. This student would stand up and announce to the whole room that he had finished the test in five minutes. That meant that he had guessed on all the questions but was going to collect a reward anyway.

The funny part of this was how other students responded to non-verbal cues from the actor. The study was conducted at Carnegie Mellon, a high brow university in Pittsburgh. If the actor was wearing a Carnegie Mellon sweatshirt then other students cheated more. Implicitly, the guy was saying “Hey, I’m one of you. It’s OK to cheat.” If the actor wore a University of Pittsburgh shirt then students cheated less. They did not want to identify themselves with the party crowd at Pitt.

These students decided to “do the right thing” based on social factors. Either the cool kid in the CMU shirt was showing a disdain for authority (“Yeah, I want to be cool like him”) or one of those deadbeats from Pitt was trying to get something for nothing (“What a jerk. I’m not one of those.”) It was not morality that was the issue – image was the important thing.

The old but true cliché says “integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking”. How often do I base my values on the actions of others? It is way too easy to follow the crowd even when their group-think violates God’s commands.

“When i stand before the Lord, I’ll be standing alone. This journey is my own. Still I want man’s advice and i need man’s approval, this journey is my own. Why would i want to live for man, and pay the highest price? What does it mean to gain the whole world, only to lose my life? You can’t live for someone else, it will only bring you pain. I cant even judge myself, only the Lord can say ‘well done.’ “ Sara Groves


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