Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Arthur Schneider


The simple model of rational crime suggests that people will only break the rules when the reward is at least as great as the possible consequences of getting caught. Conversely, we know that many people cheat and lie in situations when the reward is low. This paper will survey current literature and experiments on cheating and use an original model to examine how people will act in situations with low monitoring and low reward. Participants were given simple, timed math quizzes composed of five questions that do not have a possible correct answer. After the time was up, they were asked to self report on the number of correct answers and received $1 for each question they claimed they got correct. Participants were surveyed for 12 factors to determine predispositions towards dishonesty at two shopping malls. Frequency of cheating proved to be very low, with only 15% of respondents choosing to be dishonest. Intensity of dishonesty was also low -- no participants claimed more than $2. Age, political leanings, expected average, gender, income, and race were all found to play significant or weakly significant roles in cheating. Self-confidence, education level, current religiosity, and religiosity of upbringing were not found to play a role.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford, CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Economics.