British children reluctant to cheat, US study shows

The Independent is reporting that  a study of six- and seven-years olds found the vast majority of British children tested refused to cheat (unlike those from North America)…

…Despite specifically designing a study to lure the youngsters into peeking at the answer to a trivia question – so their skills of deception could then be put to the test – the vast majority of the British children refused to cheat.

Based on studies mainly in North America, about two-thirds were expected to sneak a look at the right answer when the researcher left the room, but less than 25 per cent of the British children actually did so.

Dr Tracy Alloway, of North Florida University, who led the research, told The Independent that they now planned to try to find out why so few took the bait.

“A great follow-up study we’re interested in pursuing is looking at cultural differences,” she said…

One theory is that the word “peeking” – the children were told not to do this by the researcher – has a stronger negative connotation in Britain than in the US and Canada.

Dr Alloway also said the British children may have been more concerned they would be caught. Rather than being in a quiet laboratory, they were tested in a classroom and Dr Alloway said noise in the hall outside may have spooked potential cheaters…

More at: British children reluctant to cheat, US study shows


See more on the paper from the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology at: Liar, liar, working memory on fire: Investigating the role of working memory in childhood verbal deception (payment required for full text)


Not sure how valid this suggested finding is – they raise caveats themselves in the report above – but do you think it could be the case that British children are less likely to cheat than those in some other countries, such as the United States?

If so, why could that be?

I find it a reassuring suggestion but I imagine others might disagree – what do you think?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Research.


  1. Kenza

    In the UK children don’t have to cheat because their teachers will do it for them. Only last week one of the headlines was that cheating and fraud was rife in the British education system not by the kids but led by pressurised teachers and league tables driven headteachers.

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