22 Mar 2022


Ethics: The Case of the Plagiarized Paragraph

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 855

Pages: 3

Downloads: 0

Original Work

The intuitive notion of helplessness entails, we reasoned, the belief that nothing one does matters. This decomposes into objective and subjective helplessness. More formally, an animal is objectively helpless with respect to an important outcome (O) such as shock offset if the probability of (O), given a response (R) is not different from the probability of (O) given the absence of that response (notR). When this is true of all responses, objective helplessness exists”  

Paraphrased Paragraph 

Based on the reasoning in Maier (2016), a person is said to have developed learned helplessness when the belief that nothing else matters forms part of primal instincts. As the situation degenerates, the helplessness becomes both objective and subjective. From a practical perspective, objective helplessness can develop in an animal subjected to shock if despite the preset response, the shock does not recede. With time, the realization that the response does not create relief will force the animal not to respond at all. This state of none-response despite adverse stimuli is objective helplessness. 

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Maier, S. F., & Seligman, M. P. (2016). Learned helplessness at fifty: Insights from neuroscience.  Psychological Review 123 (4), 349-367. doi:10.1037/rev0000033 


Ethical issues are integral to the practice of psychology, hence deeply entrenched within the profession right from the academic level to professional application of psychology. This is premised on the fact that psychology is not an absolute science per se and a lot of responsibility in decision making is purely premised on the practitioner. Even a slight preponderance for taking short cuts can, therefore, be disastrous in the field of psychology. This is the main premise the extreme adherence to the code of conduct. Section 8.11 of the aforesaid code of conduct deals directly with the instant topic of plagiarism and provides that a member of the profession shall not misrepresent the data or work generated by another individual as their own (APA, 2010). Further, occasional citing is indicated as not being a cure to the transgression of plagiarism. 

Intentional plagiarism is a direct breach of the code of ethics and an indictment on the student or practitioner who does it. Such conduct clearly shows that the individual does not warrant the level of trust pertaining to the psychology profession. Breaching such an express provision of the code of conduct is a clear indicator of a propensity to breach the code in other ways and manners. An accidental plagiarism on the other hand albeit understandable is indicative of a lesser level of care than that anticipated for a psychologist. As indicated above, there are many vital decisions in the practice of psychologist and this call for a meticulous attention to details and a sharp capacity to judgment. These qualities should be able to eliminate any accidental plagiarism.

The first person to be hurt by an act of plagiarism is the original owner of the work. The main consequence may be a pecuniary one, if the article plagiarized is available for sale. A well cited document will lead a reader to seek for the original work and purchase it. Plagiarism will, therefore, interfere with future market for the article since the information is as creditable as its source (Clark, 2012). Plagiarism may also create unwanted publicity to the original author. A good example is the embarrassment visited upon the first family in general and Michelle Obama in particular when Melania Trump reprehensibly plagiarized her speech at the GOP convention (Clark, 2016). Consequently, embarrassing social media posts and caricature involving the first lady appeared all over the world.

A patient, client, or student will place value on a publication premised on who has authored it. If a document for example is authored by Sigmund Freud, it will be taken at face value. However, a plagiarized article will elicit doubt even if it contains well researched facts. Further, when a member of the profession is exposed for plagiarism, those who had been served by the practitioner before will begin to doubt the services so provided. Patients will doubt their diagnosis and prognosis. Students will begin to doubt the validity of their studies and clients may wonder if they had been shortchanged. Finally, plagiarism affects all practitioners and those kindred to the psychology profession through bad publicity.

A good example of attribution to the author is the issue of learned helplessness that is still the subject of intense research. With different schools of thought and opinions relating to it, a patient or student will be seeking to compare opinions from different schools of thought over the subject. When plagiarism mixes content from different schools of thought, the student will be disenfranchised. A more disturbing situation would be a patient who has been diagnosed with learned helplessness and is undergoing therapy. If the patient then realizes that the practitioner has been disgraced through plagiarism, it will create dismay. The patient will wonder whether the diagnosis was right and if the therapy has been curative or exacerbated the problem. 

In summary, plagiarism is an express breach of the APA code of ethics occasioned when an individual passes on another individual’s original works as one’s own. Plagiarism negatively impacts the entire profession, the author of the original works and any target of the works produced through plagiarism. It is also clear from the foregoing that both accidental and intentional plagiarism is a breach of the APA code of ethics and it creates the impression that the person perpetrating it is not fit to practice in the field of psychology. This is because the very nature of this profession demands meticulous care and sound judgment. Plagiarism should, therefore, be avoided at all costs.


American Psychological Association. (2010).  Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct . Retrieved from <http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/> 

Clark, R. P. (2012).  Journalism’s summer of sin marked by plagiarism, fabrication, obfuscation . Retrieved, from <http://www.poynter.org/2012/journalisms-summer-of-sin-calls-for-leadership-transparency/187335/> 

Clark, R. P. (2016).  Welcome to post-plagiarism America . Retrieved from <http://www.poynter.org/2016/welcome-to-post-plagiarism-america/422260/> 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Ethics: The Case of the Plagiarized Paragraph.


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