Moral Choices in Class: The Importance of Reminders


Circumstances, such a difficult test or a looming deadline, may challenge the rectitude of otherwise honest students. According to the self-concept maintenance model of Mazar, Amir, and Ariel (2008), if the opportunity for dishonesty arises, students may misbehave, but very little so that their positive self-concept is not substantially tarnished (Goldstone & Chin, 1993). Events in the current situation, such as reminders of either religious principles or secular justice, can prime students’ ethical standards, thereby deterring dishonesty. Yet, depending on the relative prevalence of religious values over secular values in their society, religious reminders may become superfluous (adaptation response) or have a stronger impact as the values they represent can be easily brought to mind (recency effect). In the present study, students from Saudi Arabia, where religion is inserted in everyday life, were given the opportunity to cheat. Specifically, they were asked to self-assess their performance on a math task while believing that their assessment would either be anonymous (opportunity-to-cheat condition) or be linked to their names (control condition). Before self-assessment, students were exposed to religious or secular reminders of honesty or to neutral primes. In agreement with the evidence of earlier studies conducted in the Western world, students inflated their self-assessments very little, and even less when presented with either secular or religious reminders of honesty. Comments during debriefing suggested that secular ethical values of justice were often seen as expressing Islamic principles. Implications for instructional practices in the classroom are discussed.

Author Information
Maura Pilotti, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Tahani Algouhi, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Eman Abdulhadi, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Jood Alhowais, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2021
Stream: Teaching Experiences

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon