All of these responses contain the essence of denial of responsibility: the cheater has deflected blame to others or to a specific situational context.
370 DONALD L. MCCABE Denial of Injury AS noted in Table 1, denial of injury was identified as a neutralization technique employed by some respondents. A key element in denial of injury is whether one feels “anyone has clearly been hurt by (the) deviance.” In invok- ing this defense, a cheater would argue “that his behavior does not really cause any great harm despite the fact that it runs counter to the law” (Sykes and Matza 1957, pp, 667-668). For example, a number of students argued that the assignment or test on which they cheated was so trivial that no one was really hurt by their cheating. These grades aren’t worth much therefore my copying doesn’t mean very much. I am ashamed, but I’d probably do it the same way again. If I extend the time on a take home it is because I feel everyone does and the teacher kind of expects it. No one gets hurt. As suggested earlier, these responses suggest the conclusion of LaBeff et al. that “(i)t is unlikely that students will . . . deny injury” (1990, p. 196) must be re-evaluated. The Denial of the Victim LaBeff et al. failed to find any evidence of denial of the victim in their stu- dent accounts. Although the student motivations for cheating summarized in Table 1 support this conclusion, at least four students (0.1% of the self- admitted cheaters in this study) provided comments elsewhere on the survey instrument which involved denial of the victim. The common element in these responses was a victim deserving of the consequences of the cheating behavior and cheating was viewed as “a form of rightful retaliation or punishment” (Sykes and Matza 1957, p. 668). This feeling was extreme in one case, as suggested by the following stu- dent who felt her cheating was justified by the realization that this school is a manifestation of the bureaucratic capitalist system that systematically keeps the lower classes down, and that adhering to their rules was simply perpetuating the institution. This ‘we’ versus ‘they’ mentality was raised by many students, but typically in comments about the policing of academic honesty rather than as justification for one’s own cheating behavior. When used to justify cheating, the target was almost always an individual teacher rather than the institution and could be more accurately classified as a strategy of condemnation of con- demners rather than denial of the victim. The Condemnation of Condemners Sykes and Matza describe the condemnation of condemners as an
SITUATIONAL ETHICS AND CHEATING 371 attempt to shift “the focus of attention from [one’s] own deviant acts to the motives and behavior of those who disapprove of [the] violations. [Bly attack- ing others, the wrongfulness of [one’s] own behavior is more easily repressed or lost to view” (1957, p. 668). The logic of this strategy for student cheaters focused on issues of favoritism and fairness. Students invoking this rationale
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- Sociology, Academic dishonesty, Sykes, Donald L. McCabe, LaBeff