The quizzical failure of a nudge on academic integrity education: a randomized controlled trial

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Studies on academic integrity reveal high rates of plagiarism and cheating among students. We have developed an online teaching tool, Integrity Games (, that uses serious games to teach academic integrity. In this paper, we test the impact of a soft intervention – a short quiz – that was added to the Integrity Games website to increase users’ interest in learning about integrity. Based on general principles of behavioral science, our quiz highlighted the intricacy of integrity issues, generated social comparisons, and produced personalized advice. We expected that these interventions would create a need for knowledge and encourage participants to spend more time on the website.

In a randomized controlled trial involving N = 405 students from Switzerland and France, half of the users had to take a short quiz before playing the serious games, while the other half could directly play the games. We measured how much time they spent playing the games, and, in a post-experimental survey, we measured their desire to learn about integrity issues and their understanding of integrity issues.

Contrary to our expectations, the quiz had a negative impact on time spent playing the serious games. Moreover, the quiz did not increase participants' desire to learn about integrity issues or their overall understanding of the topic.

Our quiz did not have any measurable impact on curiosity or understanding of integrity issues, and may have had a negative impact on time spent on the Integrity games website. Our results highlight the difficulty of implementing behavioral insights in a real-world setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalResearch Integrity and Peer Review
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 371031549