!Published on Psychology Today(http://www.psychologytoday.com)Excuses, excuses, excuses: Why peoplelie, cheat, and procrastinateBy Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.Created May 18 2010 - 8:57amHave you ever lied to get out of something you didn't want to do? Do you tend to put offunpleasant jobs? In school, did you ever make up an excuse? Cheat on a test? Most peoplehave had one of these experiences. According to my colleague Bob Feldman (Author of "TheLiar in Your Life"), the majority of the population lies, often without feeling remorse. Why dopeople do this? And why does lying, cheating, and procrastinating prevent us from achievingfulfillment?On college campuses, students have notorious reputations for putting things off till the last minuteor failing to complete assignments or tests at all. Cheating is perceived by instructors as sopervasive that we develop elaborate honor systems and codes to preventit. Inworkplaces, bosses and coworkers know that employees bend, stretch, and distort the truth.Shows like NBC's "The Office" put these behaviors in a humorous light, and everyone canrelate to these plot lines, no matter how ludicrous they may get.But we know that preventing these behaviors is about as likely to be successful as stemming theoil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We can put up protective barriers, try to put the lid on this behavior,or attempt to break it into small bits, but there's no way to eliminate it completely.I have long been interested in the topic of student excuses, lying, and cheating, both from aninstructional and a theoretical point of view. My interest was first piqued by an article I read in ahigher education newspaper which accused college professors of killing off the grandparents.The most typical student excuse for exams, missed papers, and the like, claimed the article'sauthor, was the death of a grandparent. Some students have, according to this article, killed offnot just 4 but as many as 8 or 10 grandparents in the course of their college careers. Even in ablended family, 10 grandparents would be an unbelievable number. Obviously, said the author,these kids are just making the whole thing up.In a previous post on the topic of grandparenting I talked a bit about the grandparent excuse, butI'd like to revisit it here from a different vantage point. Students (or should I say professors) donot actually kill the grandparents in their excuses. An anonymous survey I conducted on mycollege campus of several hundred students showed that students didn't use dead grandparents8/18/2010Excuses, excuses, excuses: Why people …www.psychologytoday.com/print/428101/4
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