Is Dishonesty an Automatic Tendency?

Abstract

The present study utilizes a novel task to test two competing hypotheses concerning the automaticity of dishonesty. The traditional hypothesis claims that in order to act dishonestly one has to first overcome the truth bias, which results in more time and effort. The opposing hypothesis indicates that lying in order to serve self-interest is an automatic tendency, and therefore takes less time than refraining from lying. The goal is to look at the action dynamics of dishonesty in order to investigate its underlying cognitive processes. Subjects were asked to privately predict the outcome of a virtual coin-flip. After observing the actual outcome they reported whether their prediction was correct or wrong. The movements of the mouse towards the target answer were recorded and used for action dynamic analysis. Our results support the latter hypothesis indicating that dishonest people take less time and experience less hesitation while choosing the deceptive answer.


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