Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Akira Miyake

Second Advisor

Dr. Sarah Massey-Warren

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Saddoris

Abstract

Cheating is seen as immoral in most, if not all, cultures and can have negative legal and social consequences throughout life. The ability to stop oneself from cheating is deeply rooted in self-control. Prior research has indicated that the mental construal of events (how a behavior is described), even without conscious effort, can alter the impulses to give into temptations, in particular with a high construal mindset. Thinking of events in high construal terms (abstract and subjective) can lead to higher self-control than in low construal terms (concrete). I set out to test if a high mental construal can improve self-control in cheating settings, and to determine which individuals it benefits the greatest. This was determined by measuring individuals natural tendency to construe events in high or low terms then assess their natural inhibitory control (measuring self-control) before experimentally manipulating them into high or low construal conditions. The dependent measure was whether participants cheated or not on a novel dice task. The results suggest that there was a marginal effect of construal condition on the decision to cheat. Participants in the lower-construal level was predictive of cheating behavior. Additionally, results marginally suggest participants that naturally construed events in low terms were impacted more by the construal manipulation.

Available for download on Friday, April 12, 2019

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