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The Psychology of Plagiarism
Unformatted Document Text:  categories were non-significant across all five personality measures. Therefore, no significant differences were found in the Big Five personalities of those who admit to plagiarism and those who do not, so that H4 was not supported. Overall, the findings identify distinctions in copy-and-paste plagiarism from the Internet, affirm that plagiarists are more likely to see copying as a common offense and discover that journalism and mass communication students are no more or no less likely to commit the offense than are their peers in other majors. Equally important is the absence of a correlation between self-reported plagiarism and the Big Five personality measures. The finding of non-significance, however, raises questions about whether a different personality measure might yield different results. Although the Big Five measures have been shown to predict job performance, they emphasize conformity, orderliness and perseverance. 55 Thus, a second study was undertaken using Schlenker’s Integrity Scale, which measures one’s balance between principles and expediency. 56 Study 2 Unlike integrity scales designed to detect dishonesty in people applying for jobs, 57 Schlenker’s scale presumes integrity exists along a continuum. The scale does not measure absolutes but tests personal commitment to principles through Likert-scale answers to 18 questions such as “The true test of character is a willingness to stand by one’s principles, no matter what price one has to pay” and “Lying is sometimes necessary to accomplish important, worthwhile goals.” 58 The instrument displays little social desirability bias and measures are internally consistent. 59 People who score on the upper end of the scale prefer to be seen as sticking to their principles while those closer to the

Authors: Lewis, Norman. and Zhong, Bu.
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categories were non-significant across all five personality measures. Therefore, no 
significant differences were found in the Big Five personalities of those who admit to 
plagiarism and those who do not, so that H4 was not supported.
Overall, the findings identify distinctions in copy-and-paste plagiarism from the 
Internet, affirm that plagiarists are more likely to see copying as a common offense and 
discover that journalism and mass communication students are no more or no less likely 
to commit the offense than are their peers in other majors. Equally important is the 
absence of a correlation between self-reported plagiarism and the Big Five personality 
measures. The finding of non-significance, however, raises questions about whether a 
different personality measure might yield different results. Although the Big Five 
measures have been shown to predict job performance, they emphasize conformity, 
orderliness and perseverance.
 Thus, a second study was undertaken using Schlenker’s 
Integrity Scale, which measures one’s balance between principles and expediency.
Study 2
Unlike integrity scales designed to detect dishonesty in people applying for jobs,
Schlenker’s scale presumes integrity exists along a continuum. The scale does not 
measure absolutes but tests personal commitment to principles through Likert-scale 
answers to 18 questions such as “The true test of character is a willingness to stand by 
one’s principles, no matter what price one has to pay” and “Lying is sometimes necessary 
to accomplish important, worthwhile goals.”
 The instrument displays little social 
desirability bias and measures are internally consistent.
 People who score on the upper 
end of the scale prefer to be seen as sticking to their principles while those closer to the 


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