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The Psychology of Plagiarism
Unformatted Document Text:  allowing those who believed their copying didn’t constitute plagiarism to answer in the negative. However, letting respondents self-identify themselves as plagiarists fit the purpose of the study, to probe for differences in personality. Instead of defining the offense, the survey offered scenarios and asked respondents whether they constituted plagiarism. Results For H1, concerning the relative frequency of plagiarism, the data showed no significant differences between mass communication students and those in other majors. Overall, 15.6% of respondents said they had committed plagiarism, with about half indicating they had plagiarized once and the other half reporting multiple offenses. To avoid small cell-counts, self-reported plagiarism was recoded as a dichotomized variable and compared with academic majors grouped into three categories: journalism and mass communication (63.7% of respondents), other majors (25.6%) and undeclared majors (10.7%). The resulting chi-square was not significant. Therefore, mass communication students did not differ significantly from their peers in self-report plagiarism, and H1 was supported. Regarding H2, strong associations surfaced between self-reported plagiarism and opinions about the prevalence of cheating. Those who admitted to plagiarism were more likely to agree that cheating was widespread on campus when both variables were dichotomized to avoid low expected cell counts (χ 2 = 13.85, df = 1, p < .001). An even stronger relationship surfaced when students were asked how widespread cheating was on their campus (χ 2 = 91.99, df = 1, p < .001). Although 14.2% of those who denied

Authors: Lewis, Norman. and Zhong, Bu.
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allowing those who believed their copying didn’t constitute plagiarism to answer in the 
negative. However, letting respondents self-identify themselves as plagiarists fit the 
purpose of the study, to probe for differences in personality. Instead of defining the 
offense, the survey offered scenarios and asked respondents whether they constituted 
plagiarism.
Results
For H1, concerning the relative frequency of plagiarism, the data showed no 
significant differences between mass communication students and those in other majors. 
Overall, 15.6% of respondents said they had committed plagiarism, with about half 
indicating they had plagiarized once and the other half reporting multiple offenses. To 
avoid small cell-counts, self-reported plagiarism was recoded as a dichotomized variable 
and compared with academic majors grouped into three categories: journalism and mass 
communication (63.7% of respondents), other majors (25.6%) and undeclared majors 
(10.7%). The resulting chi-square was not significant. Therefore, mass communication 
students did not differ significantly from their peers in self-report plagiarism, and H1 was 
supported.
Regarding H2, strong associations surfaced between self-reported plagiarism and 
opinions about the prevalence of cheating. Those who admitted to plagiarism were more 
likely to agree that cheating was widespread on campus when both variables were 
dichotomized to avoid low expected cell counts (χ
2
 = 13.85, df = 1, p < .001). An even 
stronger relationship surfaced when students were asked how widespread cheating was on 
their campus (χ
2
 = 91.99, df = 1, p < .001). Although 14.2% of those who denied 


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