Attitudes towards performance-enhancing drugs in academics: The use of cognitive enhancers
LE3 .A278 2016
Master of Arts
The use of performance-enhancing drugs is commonly associated with athletics. However, it is also prevalent amongst students within academic institutions. Within the academy performance-enhancing drugs take the form of and are referred to as cognitive enhancers (CEs). These substances can increase cognitive abilities and be used by students with intent of augmenting their academic performance. Using a qualitative approach this thesis attempts to conceptualize and describe the attitudes students have toward cognitive enhancers, and identify how a variety of factors related to the competitive structure of the academy might result in the their use of cognitive enhancers. Eight semi-structured interviews, with five current female and three male university students from various academic disciplines and four different universities. were conducted for this study. The results of this thesis suggest that students identify the use of CEs as a means to increase academic performance as a deviant and unethical behaviour for the most part, with the exception of students who use it for legitimate medical reasons. The participants of this study attributed the possibility of CE use to numerous factors including interactions with other students, teachers, the competitive environment of school, grades and future career goals. The participants articulated similarities between PED use in sports and CE use in academics. The participants identified that caffeine is a CE and attributed its societal acceptance to its normalized consumption. The results also suggested that even though students agree that CE use should not be allowed, they doubt the practicality of the implementation of an anti-doping system within academics for the regulation of CEs. This thesis concluded that the academy should open an overtly diversified dialogue to discuss whether CE use creates an unfair academic environment and whether its use should be banned or allowed by students.
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