Former England full-back Danny Mills says if a player makes contact with another player then they have the right to go down.
Ashley Young was booked for 'diving' in Manchester United's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace prompting calls for greater punishment.
United boss David Moyes says he thinks retrospective punishment should be used as part of the effort to stop players from diving.
Moyes confirmed afterwards that he has spoken to the United winger, while Palace chairman Steve Parish thinks offenders should be sent off.
Mills told Sky Sports News Radio: "If you dive and there is no contact at all and it's a blatant attempt to win a free-kick or a penalty then that is an outright attempt at cheating and that should be punished.
"If the referee misses it then he misses it, but is it any worse than an elbow or someone pulling a shirt?
"That's the sort of things that kids copy. Children copy players rolling around on the floor. They don't copy players running up to the referee but they copy goal celebrations and simulation.
"It's one of those horrible things and if there is no contact then it's out and out cheating.
"There will be the odd exception where there is an attempted tackle and player jumps to avoid to get hurt but that's not a dive.
"If you make contact, then the player has a right to go down and then the referee has a difficult decision to make. But if there's no contact, what can you do if you're a defensive player? You're getting punished for someone cheating."