Grades, Risk and Psychopathy: Students’ Willingness to Pay for Essays

Identifying the links between grades, risk and psychopathy in contract cheating 

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The Scientia Education Academy and UNSW Professor Cath Ellis (ADA) are delighted to welcome Dan Rigby, Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester.

Join Professor Dan Rigby as he investigates undergraduate students’ demand for original essays provided by commercial providers (‘contract cheating’). In this lecture, Prof. Rigby will discuss the results of a discrete choice experiment completed by 400 first-year students at an Australian university. 

This experiment sample was recruited shortly before they were due to submit a piece of coursework that contributed to their mark for the year. In the experiment, students made repeated choices between submitting their own work and buying essays that differed in price, grade, the risk of detection, and the associated penalty. Shockingly, one-third of the sample indicated a willingness to buy on one or more occasions. 

Choice models estimated on the choice data indicate that respondents took account of the essays’ attributes (grade, risk, penalty, price) in their choices. Willingness to pay for a High Distinction paper reached a maximum value of c.$1000, declining with increases in associated risk and penalty and the grade students expect for their own work. In his talk, Dan will reveal more learnings emerging from this fascinating research.

The lecture will conclude by discussing the impact of individuals’ characteristics, identifying latent segments that differ in terms of their class membership, levels of Machiavellianism, narcissism, non-clinical psychopathy, and risk aversion. This lecture and study will spark discussion around academic dishonesty and the need for continued efforts to promote academic integrity among our undergraduate students. 

As Dan is also undertaking new research on the use of ChatGPT, the Q&A discussion could cover both contract cheating, as well as his insights around the use of AI in learning and teaching.

This event will be delivered in person at the Council Chambers located in The Chancellery. After the one-hour lecture, you are invited to stay for afternoon canapes, drinks and networking. Register here to reserve your spot.

The session will not be livestreamed, but the recording will be made available after the event to colleagues who cannot join us at the Chancellery.

Event Image Creator: Angela Hsieh | Image Credit: NPR


About the Speaker

Prof Dan Rigby headshot

Dan Rigby is a Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester and also holds a position at the University of Western Australia. He has undertaken research in the UK and Australia on undergraduate students’ demand for original essays provided by commercial providers (‘contract cheating’). He is undertaking new research on the use of ChatGPT.