COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — High school students who have trouble paying attention in class are more likely to admit to cheating, a new study shows.

Researchers found that inattention led to hyperactivity in the students, and both together contributed to higher levels of cheating, the team said in a press release.

The issue is important because many students with attention problems don’t get an official diagnosis, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, said Eric Anderman, lead author of the study and professor of educational psychology at The Ohio State University.

“Students diagnosed with ADHD get a lot of support and help in school, but many other kids with attention problems fall through the cracks,” Anderman said in the release. “They don’t get the help they need that could help them do better in school and avoid cheating.”

The researchers studied 855 adolescents from three midwestern public schools, two suburban and one rural. Data was collected twice from the students, about one year apart.

“Inattention is the driver here, the issue that leads to problems in the classroom,” Anderman said.

“The student is not paying attention, so he gets out of his seat and goofs around, and when you put both together, that is a perfect setup for more cheating.”

The study took into account a wide variety of other factors that have been linked to cheating, including depression, learning disabilities, gender, ethnicity, grade point average and whether students qualified for special education services – and inattention still was related to cheating, the news release said.

Anderman conducted the study with Richard Gilman of Terrace Metrics and Xingfeiyue Liu, a doctoral student, and Seung Yon Ha, a postdoctoral scholar, both in education at Ohio State. Their results were published recently in the journal Psychology in the Schools.