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, 8 (4), e60713

Telling Lies: The Irrepressible Truth?

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Telling Lies: The Irrepressible Truth?

Emma J Williams et al. PLoS One.

Abstract

Telling a lie takes longer than telling the truth but precisely why remains uncertain. We investigated two processes suggested to increase response times, namely the decision to lie and the construction of a lie response. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were directed or chose whether to lie or tell the truth. A colored square was presented and participants had to name either the true color of the square or lie about it by claiming it was a different color. In both experiments we found that there was a greater difference between lying and telling the truth when participants were directed to lie compared to when they chose to lie. In Experiments 3 and 4, we compared response times when participants had only one possible lie option to a choice of two or three possible options. There was a greater lying latency effect when questions involved more than one possible lie response. Experiment 5 examined response choice mechanisms through the manipulation of lie plausibility. Overall, results demonstrate several distinct mechanisms that contribute to additional processing requirements when individuals tell a lie.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Example of trials in Experiment 1: a) Directed, b) Choice.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Response times of Experiment 1 as a function of type of instruction and honesty.
Note: Error bars are standard error.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Example of trials in Experiment 2: a) Directed, b) Choice.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Response times of Experiment 2 as a function of type of instruction and honesty.
Note: Error bars are standard error.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Example of a three-color lie trial from Experiment 3.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Response times of Experiment 3 as a function of number of response possibilities and honesty.
Note: Error bars are standard error.
Figure 7
Figure 7. Response times of Experiment 4 as a function of number of response possibilities and honesty.
Note: Error bars are standard error.
Figure 8
Figure 8. Response times of Experiment 5 as a function of truthful color and honesty.
Note: Error bars are standard error.

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Grant support

This work was conducted as part of a PhD study undertaken by the first author. This PhD was funded by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Foundation Wales (grant number RCPS400): http://eadsfoundation.com/. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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