The effect of lying on memory in daily life: Does motivation matter?

Psych J. 2024 Apr;13(2):216-226. doi: 10.1002/pchj.709. Epub 2023 Dec 17.


Recently, there has been renewed interest in the effect of lying on memory. A growing body of studies has documented that lying can impair memories and cause memory disruptions, such as forgetting and false memories, to a greater degree than telling the truth. This study aimed to investigate whether motivation plays a role in the effect of lying on memory. The present study utilized a daily life paradigm and manipulated three conditions: truth telling, internally motivated lying, and externally motivated lying. We asked participants to engage in a shopping task and to tell lies (externally motivated lying group) or to choose between telling the truth (truth-telling group) and telling lies (internally motivated lying group) in the interview. Forty-eight hours later, the participants were instructed to truthfully carry out multiple memory assessments. The principal findings of this research are that lying can result in memory impairments, and internally motivated lying can lead to greater impairment in source memory than externally motivated lying. Moreover, no significant differences between the two lying groups were found in the memory tests. The empirical findings of this study provide new insights into the effect of lying on memory.

Keywords: daily life; lying; memory; motivation.

MeSH terms

  • Deception*
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Motivation*