Plagiarism most common among the wealthy and well-educated

January 03, 2014, 8:19 PM GMT+0

The well educated and wealthy are the most likely to 'know people who' have passed other people's work off as their own.

Plagiarism, that is when you take someone else's work and pass it off as your own, has appeared in the headlines unusually frequently in the last couple of months. In November, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul faced accusations of plagiarism after he was found to have allegedly lifted entire passages from wikipedia articles for use in his speeches. Plagiarism isn't just limited to people within the Beltway, however, as the current travails of Hollywood star Shia LaBeouf show. He has been subjected to widespread criticism after apparently lifting the plot of his short film '' from a 2007 comic by Daniel Clowes.

According to the latest YouGov research, however, fewer than only 6% of Americans admit to having copied someone else's work without giving proper credit. But if you ask them whether or not they 'know someone' who has, the figure is dramatically higher. In that case, 25% say they 'know someone' personally who has copied someone else's work, with most of the public having neither copied work themselves (86%) nor even associated with someone who has (56%).

Perhaps appropriately, plagiarism appears to be a greater problem among people who have gone to college than people who haven't. Most people whose education stopped at high school (66%) say that they do not know anyone who has plagiarised someone else. Just under 30% of people who either have some college or who are college graduates know someone who has plagiarised, while most post-grads (60%) say that they know someone who has copied someone else's work.

Post-grads might be the most likely to know plagiarists, but people whose household income exceed $100,000 a year come a not-so-distant second, with 43% of people in the wealthiest households knowing someone who has committed plagiarism. This is unsurprising, given the close connection between level of education and the size of household income. People aged over 65 (16%) and whose household incomes are less than $40,000 a year (18%) are the least likely to hang know someone who has passed off another's work as their own.

Among people who admit to committing plagiarism themselves, college grads (10%) and 30-44 year olds (9%) are the most likely to admit it, while high school grads (3%) and people in the South (3%) are the least likely.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty Images

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