Tolerance toward cheating in the classroom can possibly lead students to develop a blind eye to unethical business behaviors at the workplace, a new study conducted by a group of researchers has found.

Titled “Student attitudes toward cheating may spill over into their careers,” the study published in the Journal of Marketing Education found a link between openness to unethical behavior at the job and participating in a cover-up among students who tolerate cheating in the classroom.

The researchers from two California State University campuses surveyed nearly 250 undergraduate marketing students and tried to look at the underlying forces influencing these attitudes.

By using two traits, individualism and collectivism, the researchers tried to measure which one led students to be more or less tolerant of cheating. Collectivists want to maintain group cohesion and were found to have a more laissez-faire attitude toward cheating than their individualistic classmates.

“To save face they might count on cheating to make sure they all do well. They also won’t rat each other out because that will make people look bad,” said California State University San Marcos Professor Glen Brodowsky.

While San Francisco State Professor and Chair of Marketing Foo Nin Ho, a co-author of the study pointed out that, “just because a student is part of one culture doesn’t mean they’ll be more tolerant of cheating. Their survey measured individual attitudes shaped in part by culture — an important distinction.”

Researchers called on professors to promote and better train students in following ethical behavior which ultimately leads to better outcomes.

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