Does information about the frequency of lying impact perceptions of honesty?
In the psychological research literature, deception is often discussed as a ubiquitous phenomenon. However, recent research has revealed that the mean of two lies per day is highly misleading due to a skewed distribution, with most people telling zero lies on any given day. We sought to explore how the presentation of statistics on lie frequency affects understandings of lie frequency, veracity judgments, behavioral intentions, beliefs about others' propensity to lie, suspicion, and attitudes. In Study 1, 176 participants were randomly exposed to two explanations of deception research findings that either described lying as ubiquitous or not. Results revealed that the differing explanations of lie frequency did not produce significance differences on the dependent measures. In Study 2, 114 participants were randomly assigned to watch a video of a researcher discussing one of three deception literature prompts. Results indicated that a more nuanced presentation of the skewed distribution of lie frequency led participants to believe that lying is less ubiquitous, but had no effect on veracity judgments, behavioral intention, beliefs about others' propensity to lie, suspicion, and attitudes. Implications and considerations for reporting lie frequency are discussed.
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