Memory & Cognition

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 65–73 | Cite as

The effects of repeated idea elaboration on unconscious plagiarism

  • Louisa -Jayne Stark
  • Timothy J. PerfectEmail author


Unconscious plagiarism occurs in a recall task when someone presents someone else’s idea as his or her own. Recent research has shown that the likelihood of such an error is inflated if the idea is improved during the retention interval, but not if it is imagined. Here, we explore the effects of repeating the elaboration phase during the retention interval. Participants in a group first generated alternate uses to common objects before elaborating the ideas either by imagining them or by improving them. This elaboration phase occurred once, twice, or not at all. Later, they attempted to recall their original ideas and generate new ideas. Repeated imagery did not inflate unconscious plagiarism on either task. In contrast, repeating the improvement phase increased plagiarism to dramatically high levels in the recall task. The latter effect might be particularly pertinent to real-world cases of plagiarism in which the ideas under dispute have been the subject of creative development over many occasions.


Retention Interval Elaboration Condition Source Memory Idea Improvement Source Monitoring 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthEngland

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