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Accountability Reduces Unconscious Plagiarism


Kristi S. Multhaup, Box 7000, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28035-7000, USA.



We investigated how holding participants accountable for their responses affected unconscious plagiarism when solving a Boggle puzzle task (finding words in a 4 × 4 letter matrix). Both experimental and control participants (N = 60) generated puzzle solutions with a computer partner, recalled their own previously generated solutions, and then produced new solutions to the puzzles. Accountability was manipulated by telling participants in the experimental group before beginning the initial-generation phase that at the end of the session, they would review their generated responses with the researcher (accountable participants). Accountable participants plagiarized less than control participants when generating words with the computer and generating new solutions on their own but not when they were attempting to recall words they initially generated. The data are discussed in terms of the leading theoretical explanation of unconscious plagiarism, the source-monitoring framework. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.