Understanding Plagiarism Behavior through Criterion Studies: Predictors of Actual Plagiarism

Understanding Plagiarism Behavior through Criterion Studies: Predictors of Actual Plagiarism

Daniel E. Martin (California State University, East Bay, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-510-6.ch026
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These studies cover new ground in two respects: 1) That the academic dishonesty literature is subject to revision using criterion variables to avoid self bias and social desirability issues, 2) This research establishes the relationship between actual academic dishonesty and the aforementioned variables.
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Understanding Plagiarism Behavior Through Criterion Studies: Predictors Of Actual Plagiarism

Plagiarism continues to be a problem in the business academia and professional environments graduates inhabit. The current chapter contributes to the literature on unethical conduct in the following ways. First, all of the studies presented use a strong criterion variable to objectively assess plagiarism and reduce the self-report and social desirability biases of previous research on the topic. Second, we link plagiarism to a wide range of related individual differences that have been proposed as being linked to plagiarism or impact likelihood of plagiarism. Accordingly we will introduce plagiarism, describe our criterion variable, and then present the results of a stream of research regarding plagiarism and: integrity and workplace deviance, ethnicity and acculturation, individualism and collectivism, and religiosity and spirituality.

Cheating Behavior and Criterion Studies

Research suggests that while students understand that cheating is unethical and are exposed to the consequences of cheating in their academic careers; most acknowledge cheating at some point while in school (Davis, Grover, Becker, & McGregor, 1992). Researchers have also consistently found significant differences between business students and non-business students (with business students being more prone to cheat) in the degree of (self-reported) academic cheating (McCabe and Trevino, 1995) and tolerance of cheating behaviors (Roig and Ballew, 1994). While an array of demographics and situational factors have been examined in relationship to student cheating (Crown and Spiller, 1998), the majority of studies have used self-reported measures of cheating. This limits the viability of data due to social desirability and self-report biases (Lawson, 2004).


Study One: Individual Differences And Plagiarism Behavior

While there is a large body of research on individual differences and academic dishonesty (Whitley, 1998; Crown and Spiller, 1998), there is a paucity of business ethics research examining individual difference (specifically personality) variables in specific relationship to plagiarism. Some of the variables that have been explored in relationship to cheating behavior are locus of control (Forsyth, Pope, and McMillan, 1985), neuroticism and extraversion (Bushway and Nash, 1977), and personality type (Coleman and McHaffey, 2000). In a comprehensive examination of cheating in college students, Whitley (1998) summarizes studies the wide range of individual differences variables used to predict self-report cheating behaviors. Some important variables from the Whitley summary are self-reported honesty, moral development, superego strength, industriousness, Type A behavior, deviant behavior, impulse control, self-esteem, Machiavellianism, and belief in a just world. Importantly, while attitudes toward cheating can predict cheating behavior, attitudes are self reported, and are less compelling than the actual behavior in research. Surprisingly, only one study addressed the relationship between academic dishonesty and integrity (Lucas and Friedrich, 2005), with none addressing academic plagiarism and measures of integrity.

While Lucas and Friedrich link integrity measures to academic dishonesty while controlling for social desirability, the research (as all of the above studies) relies on self reported behaviors such as taking tests for others and copying test answers. Again, prior studies have predominantly focused on academic cheating; our goal was to clearly establish the relationship between individual differences measures, i.e., integrity, and academic plagiarism, with potential implications for workplace deviance.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ethnicity: Ethnic character, background, or affiliation.

Spirituality: the condition or quality of being spiritual.

Individual Differences: The study of variations in psychological variables of among different people.

Culture: Socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.

Workplace Deviance: Deliberate or intentional desire to cause harm to an organization or the individuals associated with it.

Acculturation: The modification of the culture of a group or individual as a result of contact with a different culture.

Plagiarism: Wrongful appropriation of another’s work presented as ones own.

Religiosity: The quality of being religious.

Criterion Study: A study that establishes the relationship between the test and a criterion variable (or variables).

Integrity: Adherence to moral and ethical principles.

Business Students: Business student usually refers to a person who obtained a university degree in Business Administration.

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