This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Investigating the Efficacy and Mechanisms of a Middle Warning in Online Cheating Behaviors




Zawacki, Alissa M.

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Although online selection tools provide several benefits to both organizations and applicants, one large concern of such tools is the ability for applicants to potentially cheat. Thus, it is essential that a strong method be identified for reducing these unethical behaviors. Warning messages have shown to be effective at reducing these behaviors, but one concern is that their effectiveness may wear off over time or applicants may become habituated to the instructions/warnings given at the beginning of tests. The current study tested the efficacy of a warning message delivered in the middle of an online knowledge test in reducing cheating behaviors, as well as examining cognitive (moral disengagement) and emotional (fear and guilt) mechanisms that may be responsible for the above effects. Results showed that while neither cognitive or emotional mechanisms were found to significantly mediate middle-warning messages and cheating behaviors, results did show that a middle-warning message can significantly decrease cheating behaviors. Additionally, it was found that cheater status moderates the relationship between warning messages and knowledge test scores, such that cheaters who do not receive a warning message have the highest scores overall, and cheaters who receive the warning message have the lowest scores overall.