Abstract ：Previous research on nudges conducted with adults suggests that the accessibility of behavioral options can influence people’s decisions. The present study examined whether accessibility can be used to reduce academic cheating among young children. We gave children a challenging math test in the presence of an answer key they were instructed not to peek at, and manipulated the accessibility of the answer key by placing various familiar objects on top of it. In Study 1, we used an opaque sheet of paper as a two-dimensional occluder, and found that it significantly reduced cheating compared to a transparent plastic sheet. In Study 2, we used a three-dimensional occluder in the form of a tissue box to make the answer key appear even less accessible, and found it was significantly more effective in reducing cheating than the opaque paper. In Study 3, we used two symbolic representations of the tissue box: a realistic color photo and a line drawing. Both representations were effective in reducing cheating, but the realistic photo was more effective than the drawing. These findings demonstrate that manipulating accessibility can be an effective strategy to nudge children away from cheating in an academic context. They further suggest that different types of everyday objects and their symbolic representations can differentially impact children’s moral behavior.
Keywords: academic cheating, accessibility, nudge, symbolic representation, young children
Published journal：developmental science Accepted: 5 March 2021