Smigel (Cite) found that the nearer people are to the situation, the easier it is for them to rationalize their illegal behavior. He found that people who had cheated to gain unemployment compensation rationalized that their behavior as not illegal since they had contributed half the money. Student cheaters who have to pay for their own education may also use this same rationalization.
Some cheaters rationalize their actions by seeing themselves as “problem solvers” who are trying to better a bad situation (Cite). Others may claim “everybody else is doing it,” while others may claim they deserve the grades (Cite). Most cheaters do not invent these rationalizations on their own, they are simply taking existing definitions that they have learned from others and applying them to their own behavior (differential association and social learning theories) (Cite).
Smigel, in a 1950s random sample of 212 non-transient adults of Bloomington, Indiana, found that almost 50 percent of the respondents preferred to steal from large organizations because they rationalized that stealing from large organizations was not as bad as stealing from small businesses, since the large organizations were impersonal, powerful, ruthless, and could afford the losses. Another 25 percent of the respondents rationalized that stealing from the government was justified since the government was big and wealthy (Cite). These same rationalizations could also apply to how student cheaters justify their cheating of large colleges or of state supported colleges.
From this literature review of how certain criminological theories have been used in attempts to explain college student cheating and from the study of other criminological theories, a new integrated criminological theory to explain college student cheating was developed. This new theory is fully explained in Section 2.