Analyzing the roots of deception
Analyzing the roots of deception
  • 민 주 기자
  • 승인 2007.10.01 00:00
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          Disgraced professor Shin Jeong-ah and the scandal of her fake degree have left fake degrees of professors and celebrities being uncovered. Believe it or not, similar actions of deception such as committing academic forgery, giving false information about oneself and engaging in fake relationships also occur among university students. Professors look into the roots of deception prevalent among university students.

        "In Korea, a common understanding of what it means to live a fair and happy life is not established among the members of our society," said Professor Choi Joon-sik (Korean Studies). After the Japanese colonization of Korea, a common mindset that people live by has been missing. Confucianism used to be a prevalent part of people's lives, but that is no longer the case. "In comparison to societies where Christianity or Islam has a tremendous influence on the way people go through their lives, Korea does not possess a central sphere of the value that direct society to go in the right direction,"  said Choi.

         Choi believes the reason for the missing center is because, after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonization, Korea recklessly accepted Western culture without establishing firm Korean roots. Mentioning the disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-seok, Choi said both the Hwang Woo-seok scandal and the recent Shin Jeong-ah scandal encourage university students to think that acts of deceit are okay as long as they do not get caught.

          "People in our society, including the students, care about going higher up the ladder without taking the method into consideration. They do not feel guilty or feel what they are doing is wrong because nothing harsh happens to people who faked their degrees, except a little embarrassment and minor punishment," Choi said. Choi believes that these problems should be solved from the root and that religion will play a significant role.

            Professor Ahn Hyun-nie (Psychology) takes a closer look at the individual to explain the reasons behind deceptive actions prevalent among students. Ahn says the reasons can be largely divided into low self-esteem and anti-social personality.

             "Students with low self-esteem try to wrap themselves inside a shell that portrays them to be tougher, more confident, and better than they really are when they are actually weak on the inside. This kind of actions is more prominent among students who face a wide discrepancy between who they really are and the ideals that they have set for themselves," says Ahn. Students set impossible goals and try to get close to them by deceiving even themselves. For example, students who grew up with parents who are high achievers tend to set up pictures of themselves that are almost impossible to reach. If they cannot become such people, the students develop inferiority complexes, try to hide their "real" selves and pretend to be people they are not.

              Another reason that students hide themselves and perform acts of deception is due to the anti-social personality rooted in some people. "When we think of people with anti-social personalities, we tend to think of serial killers, but there are a lot of people with anti-social personalities in the white-collar class or with high social status," says Ahn. However, people with anti-social personalities can be classified to be on the borderline of a normal and an abnormal personality as they do not feel guilt or anxious when they tell a lie. "They can manipulate others by pretending to be someone that they are not and not feel sorry about it," added Ahn. She said that she has seen such people even among professors and students who manipulate their career records and pretend to be people that they are not in order to get into graduate school.

To overcome these problems within oneself, Ahn says it is important to accept and love yourself. "Establishing a healthy identity can be achieved by narrowing the distance between who you really are and who you want to be," says Ahn. Ahn recommends a book called IÕm OK, You're OK by Thomas A. Harris to help students learn to accept and love themselves as who they really are.

As the interview came to an end, Professor Choi, with a little hint of sarcasm, wanted to ask the students to look back inside their inner selves, "Are you satisfied if you turn in your report that is not your own work? How would you feel if your student that you teach turn in his or her homework that was not his or her own work?"



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