Monthly Archives: August 2009

Newsweek on Cryptomnesia

You Didn’t Plagiarize, Your Unconscious Did

Didn’t realize you were plagiarizing?  Newsweek web writer Russ Juskalian isn’t letting you off the hook:

While unconscious plagiarism is embarrassing in cases where original creative output is expected, in most aspects of daily life it ranges from useful to indispensible. What is called cryptomnesia in one context is known as social learning theory in another. For example, children learn how to behave by unconsciously copying others, and friends strengthen their relationships when they assimilate each other’s phrases, behaviors, and opinions.

But before we give high-profile cryptomnesiacs a free pass, as if they were suffering from an intractable psychological disorder, there’s a bit more to know. Cryptomnesia happens more frequently between those who trust one another, such as people in romantic relationships or close friendships, but less frequently between strangers—particularly when the one whose ideas or words might be plagiarized is present. And due to our innate skepticism, unconsciously copying a person one doesn’t know, or a source one doesn’t yet trust, is uncommon.

Read the rest of the article for some interesting insight into the psychology of theft, and then go and sin no more.

H/T Arts and Letters Daily

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New Teacher Resources Page

Welcome back to the Composition Culture blog, you who have been away.

Hopefully some more information will appear here shortly regarding writing contests this semester, resources for students, and other such fun stuff.  For now, I encourage you to check  out our new Teacher Resources page.  It’s a work in progress (we do believe in revision here at Composition Culture), but it should give you some picture of what is coming to this site.

Enjoy!

NPG

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