Contrary to the water-cooler hypothesis of educators, journalism and mass communication students who plagiarize do not differ from their non-copying peers in the “Big Five” personality traits (study 1, n = 908). However, the two groups differ in a scale that measures integrity on a continuum between principles and expediency (study 2, n = 483). They also differ when asked to evaluate types of copy-and-paste Internet plagiarism. JMC majors do not differ from those in other disciplines in their propensity to commit plagiarism. The two studies show students consider plagiarism a relative offense and offer suggestions for educators trying to reduce its prevalence.
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