Psychopathic traits, academic fraud, and the mediating role of motivation, opportunity, rationalization and perceived capability

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Abstract

This study provides initial insights on the relation between psychopathic traits (disinhibition, meanness, and boldness) and academic fraud (prevalence and severity), while considering important mediators of fraud (perceived capability, opportunity, motivation, and rationalization). Based on a large sample of university students (N = 967), two structural equation models (test and replication) were built to test the study’s main hypothesis and probe the robustness of the results. A direct link from disinhibition to prevalence was found, suggesting that disinhibition is associated with social deviance in the academic context. Higher motivation for cheating exclusively mediated this path. In meanness, rationalization explained lower rates of perceived severity of academic fraud, indicating that cognitive self-justifications trigger dishonest behavior in meanness. Boldness explained the prevalence of academic fraud via perceived capability, suggesting that low-fear, although adaptive in evaluation contexts, may increase the perceived capability for cheating. The reported significant associations support that academic fraud is part of the nomological network of psychopathy and unveil the complexity of the phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Individual Differences
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Academic fraud
  • Cheating
  • Personality
  • Psychopathy

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