Advertisement

Neuroethics

pp 1–14 | Cite as

Cognitive Enhancement vs. Plagiarism: a Quantitative Study on the Attitudes of an Italian Sample

  • Lorenzo Palamenghi
  • Claudia BonfiglioliEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Irrespective of the presence of formal norms, behaviours such as plagiarism, data fabrication and falsification are commonly regarded as unethical and unfair. Almost unanimously, they are considered forms of academic misconduct. Is this the case also for newer behaviours that technology is making possible and are now entering the academic scenario?

In the current paper we focus on cognitive enhancement (CE), the use of drugs to enhance cognitive skills of an otherwise healthy individual. At present, there are no formal rules forbidding its use in the academic setting. However, it is not clear whether there is a general public sentiment that CE should be considered as a modern form of academic misconduct.

By means of the Contrastive Vignette Technique, we collected quantitative data from 284 online surveys to directly compare the attitude of the general public towards CE and plagiarism across different ethically relevant aspects. Our aim was to understand whether the use of prescription drugs to enhance a healthy person’s cognitive skills is perceived similarly to a more common form of cheating, specifically plagiarism.

Results show that our participants do not endorse CE. At the same time, however, their opinion on the ethical issues related to its use is not negative: rather, their attitude is more positive towards CE compared to plagiarism. This seems to pose against the idea that, at present, the use of cognitive enhancers in academic environments is regarded as a form of cheating.

Keywords

Academic misconduct Plagiarism Cognitive enhancement Cheating Public attitudes 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The Authors would like to thank Rocco Micciolo for his statistical advice and Francesco Pavani for his comments on the manuscript. Many thanks also to Iole Blom for suggesting and providing stylistic improvements to the final version of the paper.

Supplementary material

12152_2019_9397_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 26 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    Gross, Charles. 2016. Scientific misconduct. Annual Review of Psychology 67: 693–711.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122414-033437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wells, J.A. 2008. Final report: Observing and reporting suspected misconduct in biomedical research. The Office of Research Integrity: Rockville.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fanelli, Daniele. 2009. How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data. PLoS One 4: e5738.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005738. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    ICAI – Statistics. 2017. http://www.academicintegrity.org/icai/integrity-3.php. Accessed 18 Dec.
  5. 5.
    Marques, Dora Nazaré, and António Filipe MacEdo. 2016. Perceptions of acceptable conducts by university students. Journal of Optometry 9. Spanish General Council of Optometry: 166–174.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.optom.2015.02.001.
  6. 6.
    Rabi, Suzanne M., Lynn R. Patton, Nancy Fjortoft, and David P. Zgarrick. 2006. Characteristics, prevalence, attitudes, and perceptions of academic dishonesty among pharmacy students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 70. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy: 73.  https://doi.org/10.5688/aj700473.
  7. 7.
    Bostrom, Nick, and Anders Sandberg. 2009. Cognitive enhancement: Methods, ethics, regulatory challenges. Science and Engineering Ethics 15. Springer Netherlands: 311–341.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-009-9142-5.
  8. 8.
    Turner, Danielle C., Trevor W. Robbins, Luke Clark, Adam R. Aron, Jonathan Dowson, and Barbara J. Sahakian. 2003. Cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology 165: 260–269.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-002-1250-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Müller, Ulrich, Nikolai Steffenhagen, Ralf Regenthal, and Peter Bublak. 2004. Effects of modafinil on working memory processes in humans. Psychopharmacology 177: 161–169.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-004-1926-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Elliott, R., Barbara J. Sahakian, K. Matthews, A. Bannerjea, J. Rimmer, and Trevor W. Robbins. 1997. Effects of methylphenidate on spatial working memory and planning in healthy young adults. Psychopharmacology 131. Springer-Verlag: 196–206.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s002130050284.
  11. 11.
    Mehta, M.A., A.M. Owen, Barbara J. Sahakian, N. Mavaddat, J.D. Pickard, and Trevor W. Robbins. 2000. Methylphenidate enhances working memory by modulating discrete frontal and parietal lobe regions in the human brain. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 20: RC65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ilieva, Irena P., Cayce J. Hook, and Martha J. Farah. 2015. Prescription stimulants’ effects on healthy inhibitory control, working memory, and episodic memory: A meta-analysis. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 27: 1069–1089.  https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_00776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Zohny, Hazem. 2015. The myth of cognitive enhancement drugs. Neuroethics 8: 257–269.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-015-9232-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lucke, Jayne C., Stephanie Bell, Brad Partridge, and Wayne D. Hall. 2011. Deflating the neuroenhancement bubble. AJOB Neuroscience 2: 38–43.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2011.611122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Vrecko, Scott. 2013. Just how cognitive is “cognitive enhancement”? On the significance of emotions in university students’ experiences with study drugs. AJOB Neuroscience 4: 4–12.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2012.740141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Iuculano, Teresa, and Roi Cohen Kadosh. 2013. The mental cost of cognitive enhancement. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 33: 4482–4486.  https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4927-12.2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cakic, V. 2009. Smart drugs for cognitive enhancement: Ethical and pragmatic considerations in the era of cosmetic neurology. Journal of Medical Ethics 35: 611–615.  https://doi.org/10.1136/jme.2009.030882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Farah, Martha J., Judy Illes, Robert Cook-Deegan, Howard Gardner, Eric Kandel, Patricia King, Eric Parens, Barbara J. Sahakian, and Paul Root Wolpe. 2004. Neurocognitive enhancement: What can we do and what should we do? Nature Reviews. Neuroscience 5: 421–425.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn1390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cohen Kadosh, Roi, Neil Levy, Jacinta O’Shea, Nicholas Shea, and Julian Savulescu. 2012. The neuroethics of non-invasive brain stimulation. Current Biology 22. Elsevier: R108–R111.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.01.013.
  20. 20.
    Roache, Rebecca. 2008. Enhancement and cheating. Expositions 2: 153–156.  https://doi.org/10.1558/expo.v2i2.153. Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Schermer, Maartje H.N. 2008. On the argument that enhancement is “cheating”. Journal of Medical Ethics 34: 85–88.  https://doi.org/10.1136/jme.2006.019646. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Whetstine, Leslie M. 2015. Cognitive enhancement: Treating or cheating? Seminars in Pediatric Neurology 22. Bioethics: 172–176.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spen.2015.05.003.
  23. 23.
    Goodman, Rob. 2010. Cognitive enhancement, cheating, and accomplishment. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 20: 145–160.  https://doi.org/10.1353/ken.0.0309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    President’s Council on Bioethics. 2003. Beyond therapy: Biotechnology and the pursuit of happiness. New York: New York, Regan Books.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Duke University Student Conduct. https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/conduct/z-policies/academic-dishonesty. Accessed 18 Dec 2018.
  26. 26.
    Faber, Nadira S., Julian Savulescu, and Thomas Douglas. 2016. Why is cognitive enhancement deemed unacceptable? The role of fairness, deservingness, and hollow achievements. Frontiers in Psychology 7: 232.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00232.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    McCabe, Donald L., and Linda Klebe Treviño. 1997. Individual and contextual influences on academic dishonesty: A multicampus investigation. Research in Higher Education 38: 379–396.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024954224675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    McCabe, Donald L., Linda Klebe Treviño, and Kenneth D Butterfield. 1999. Academic integrity in honor code and non-honor code environments: A qualitative investigation. The Journal of Higher Education 70. Ohio State University Press: 211–234.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2649128.
  29. 29.
    McCabe, Donald L., Linda Klebe Treviño, and Kenneth D. Butterfield. 2001. Cheating in academic institutions: A decade of research. Ethics & Behavior 11: 219–232.  https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327019EB1103_2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Teixeira, Aurora A.C., and Maria Fatima Rocha. 2010. Cheating by economics and business undergraduate students: An exploratory international assessment. Higher Education 59: 663–701.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-009-9274-1.
  31. 31.
    Patel-Bhakta, Hemali G., Kathleen B. Muzzin, Janice P. DeWald, Patricia R. Campbell, and Peter H. Buschang. 2014. Attitudes towards students who plagiarize: A dental hygiene faculty perspective. Journal of Dental Education 78: 131–145.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Sandberg, Anders. 2008. Brain boosting and cheating in exams: Four responses. Practical Ethics. http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2008/05/brain-boosting-and-cheating-in-exams-four-responses/. Accessed 11 Dec 2017.
  33. 33.
    Dodge, Tonya, Kevin J. Williams, Miesha Marzell, and Rob Turrisi. 2012. Judging cheaters: Is substance misuse viewed similarly in the athletic and academic domains? Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 26: 678–682.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027872.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Bell, Stephanie, Brad Partridge, Jayne C. Lucke, and Wayne D. Hall. 2013. Australian university students’ attitudes towards the acceptability and regulation of pharmaceuticals to improve academic performance. Neuroethics 6: 197–205.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-012-9153-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Forlini, Cynthia, and Eric Racine. 2012. Stakeholder perspectives and reactions to " academic " cognitive enhancement: Unsuspected meaning of ambivalence and analogies. Public Understanding of Science 21: 606–625.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662510385062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Fitz, Nicholas S., Roland Nadler, Praveena Manogaran, Eugene W.J. Chong, and Peter B. Reiner. 2014. Public attitudes toward cognitive enhancement. Neuroethics 7: 173–188.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-013-9190-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Cabrera, Laura Y., Nicholas S. Fitz, and Peter B. Reiner. 2015. Reasons for comfort and discomfort with pharmacological enhancement of cognitive, affective, and social domains. Neuroethics 8: 93–106.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-014-9222-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Babcock, Quinton, and Torn Byrne. 2000. Student perceptions of methylphenidate abuse at a public liberal arts college. Journal of American College Health 49: 143–145.  https://doi.org/10.1080/07448480009596296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    McCabe, Sean Esteban, John R. Knight, Christian J. Teter, and Henry Wechsler. 2005. Non-medical use of prescription stimulants among US college students: Prevalence and correlates from a national survey. Addiction 100: 96–106.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2004.00944.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Maher, Brendan. 2008. Poll results: Look who’s doping. Nature 452. Nature Publishing Group: 674–675.  https://doi.org/10.1038/452674a.
  41. 41.
    Teter, Christian J, Anthony E Falone, James A Cranford, Carol J Boyd, and Sean Esteban McCabe. 2010. Nonmedical use of prescription stimulants and depressed mood among college students: Frequency and routes of administration. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 38. NIH Public Access: 292–298.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2010.01.005.
  42. 42.
    Majori, S., D. Gazzani, S. Pilati, J. Paiano, A. Sannino, S. Ferrari, and E. Checchin. 2017. Brain doping: Stimulants use and misuse among a sample of Italian college students. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene 58: E130–E140.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Castaldi, Silvana, Umberto Gelatti, Grazia Orizio, Uwe Hartung, Ana Maria Moreno-Londono, Marta Nobile, and Peter J. Schulz. 2012. Use of cognitive enhancement medication among northern Italian university students. Journal of Addiction Medicine 6: 112–117.  https://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0b013e3182479584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Schelle, Kimberly J., Nadira Faulmüller, Lucius Caviola, and Miles Hewstone. 2014. Attitudes toward pharmacological cognitive enhancement-a review. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 8: 53.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2014.00053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Franke, Andreas G., Caroline Bonertz, Michaela Christmann, Stefan Engeser, and Klaus Lieb. 2012. Attitudes toward cognitive enhancement in users and nonusers of stimulants for cognitive enhancement: A pilot study. AJOB Primary Research 3: 48–57.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21507716.2011.608411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Dubljević, Veljko, Sebastian Sattler, and Eric Racine. 2014. Cognitive enhancement and academic misconduct: A study exploring their frequency and relationship. Ethics and Behavior 24: 408–420.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10508422.2013.869747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Burstin, Kenneth, Eugene B. Doughtie, and Avi Raphaeli. 1980. Contrastive vignette technique: An indirect methodology designed to address reactive social attitude Measurement1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 10. Blackwell Publishing Ltd: 147–165.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1980.tb00699.x.
  48. 48.
    Alexander, Cheryl S., and Henry Jay Becker. 1978. The use of vignettes in survey research. The Public Opinion Quarterly 42. Oxford University Press: 93–104.  https://doi.org/10.1086/268432.
  49. 49.
    Nichols, Austin Lee, and Jon K. Maner. 2008. The good-subject effect: Investigating participant demand characteristics. The Journal of General Psychology 135: 151–165.  https://doi.org/10.3200/GENP.135.2.151-166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Partridge, Brad, Jayne C. Lucke, and Wayne D. Hall. 2014. “If you’re healthy you don’t need drugs”: Public attitudes towards “brain doping” in the classroom and “legalised doping” in sport. Performance Enhancement and Health 3: 20–25.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.peh.2014.03.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Krosnick, Jon A. 1999. Survey research. Annual Review of Psychology 50: 537–567.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.50.1.537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    McCabe, Donald L., and Linda Klebe Treviño. 1993. Academic dishonesty: Honor codes and other contextual influences. The Journal of Higher Education 64: 522–538.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2959991.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIMeC - Center for Mind/Brain SciencesUniversity of TrentoRoveretoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Cognitive SciencesUniversity of TrentoRoveretoItaly

Personalised recommendations