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The Psychology of Plagiarism
Unformatted Document Text:  copyingThe rules are unclear 9 1.9 Getting a diploma is more important than other considerations 8 1.7 The assignment wasn’t worth taking the time to do original work 3 0.6 The university doesn’t take it seriously 1 0.2 Professors look the other way 0 0.0 Conclusion The central purpose of this research was to test the oft-stated informal hypothesis that plagiarists differ in personality, and the two studies answered that question in different ways. First, the finding that plagiarism is not associated with the widely used Big Five personality traits suggest that plagiarists appear to be like their non-copying peers. The two groups were nearly identical in mean scores for extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience. At the same time, the correlation between plagiarism and Schlenker’s Integrity Scale illuminates the mind of the copyist. The Integrity Scale presumes everyone is principled; it measures the degree to which people grant themselves situational flexibility to override their principles. Plagiarism fits the portion of the scale that sees principles as negotiable. Taken together, the two tests dispel some of the informal psychology hypothesis of plagiarism, yet affirm the hunch that plagiarists think differently. The Big Five personality test looks for relatively benign and broad measures. In that regard, plagiarists and non-plagiarists don’t vary. However, the Integrity Scale identifies more subtle differences between individuals in their willingness to compromise principles. Plagiarists view their standards as more fluid and situationally determined. Thus, the psychology hypothesis of plagiarism may be less an identification of discernable differences in copyists and more a search for subtle differences in tradeoffs between principles and

Authors: Lewis, Norman. and Zhong, Bu.
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background image
The rules are unclear
Getting a diploma is more important than other considerations
The assignment wasn’t worth taking the time to do original work
The university doesn’t take it seriously
Professors look the other way
The central purpose of this research was to test the oft-stated informal hypothesis 
that plagiarists differ in personality, and the two studies answered that question in 
different ways. First, the finding that plagiarism is not associated with the widely used 
Big Five personality traits suggest that plagiarists appear to be like their non-copying 
peers. The two groups were nearly identical in mean scores for extraversion, 
agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience. At the same 
time, the correlation between plagiarism and Schlenker’s Integrity Scale illuminates the 
mind of the copyist. The Integrity Scale presumes everyone is principled; it measures the 
degree to which people grant themselves situational flexibility to override their 
principles. Plagiarism fits the portion of the scale that sees principles as negotiable.
Taken together, the two tests dispel some of the informal psychology hypothesis 
of plagiarism, yet affirm the hunch that plagiarists think differently. The Big Five 
personality test looks for relatively benign and broad measures. In that regard, plagiarists 
and non-plagiarists don’t vary. However, the Integrity Scale identifies more subtle 
differences between individuals in their willingness to compromise principles. Plagiarists 
view their standards as more fluid and situationally determined. Thus, the psychology 
hypothesis of plagiarism may be less an identification of discernable differences in 
copyists and more a search for subtle differences in tradeoffs between principles and 

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