Reports of academic cheating trigger fears of moral decay. Cheating looks like a dying canary in the coal mine of morality. But this diagnosis assumes that those who cheat lack, or turn off, any genuine moral concerns with honesty and integrity. This article proposes an alternative perspective on cheating and dishonesty. We propose that cheating results from (1) misperceptions of what constitutes cheating, (2) evaluations that cheating or lying is okay under exceptional circumstances, and (3) prioritization of non-integrity concerns during conflict. Each of these three steps – perceptions, evaluations, and action selections – varies across situations and developments. From this perspective, decisions about cheating engage, rather than disengage, morality. Far from revealing a dying canary, the psychology of cheating illustrates how morality pervades decision-making.

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