All sinners

Kevin Lewis

December 25, 2018

Liar, liar: Consistent lying decreases belief in the truth
Danielle Polage
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

This study investigated the effects of lying on belief ratings for autobiographical childhood events. Participants lied by trying to convince the experimenter that likely events had not happened and that unlikely events had happened. Participants consistently lied, consistently told the truth, and alternated lying and truth telling across two sessions. Results showed that consistent false assents increased belief in those false events and that consistent false denials decreased belief in those true events. False denials had a larger influence on belief than did false assents. False assents that were told first were more likely to increase in belief than were false assents told in the second session. False denials decreased belief in the true event regardless of when they were told. These results suggest that lying influences confidence ratings both by increasing belief in a lied‐about event and by decreasing belief in a true event.

Sadism and Aggressive Behavior: Inflicting Pain to Feel Pleasure
David Chester, Nathan DeWall & Brian Enjaian
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Sadism is a “dark” trait that involves the experience of pleasure from others’ pain, yet much is unknown about its link to aggression. Across eight studies (total N = 2,255), sadism predicted greater aggression against both innocent targets and provocateurs. These associations occurred above-and-beyond general aggressiveness, impulsivity, and other “dark” traits. Sadism was associated with greater positive affect during aggression, which accounted for much of the variance in the sadism-aggression link. This aggressive pleasure was contingent on sadists’ perceptions that their target suffered due to their aggressive act. After aggression, sadism was associated with increases in negative affect. Sadism thus appears to be a potent predictor of aggression that is motivated by the pleasure of causing pain. Such sadistic aggression ultimately backfires, resulting in greater negative affect. More generally, our results support the crucial role of anticipated and positive forms of affect in motivating aggression.

Lay theories of effortful honesty: Does the honesty-effort association justify making a dishonest decision?
Julia Lee et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Are our moral decisions and actions influenced by our beliefs about how much effort it takes to do the right thing? We hypothesized that the belief that honesty is effortful predicts subsequent dishonest behavior because it facilitates one’s ability to justify such actions. In Study 1 (N = 210), we developed an implicit measure of people’s beliefs about whether honesty is effortful, and we found that this lay theory predicts dishonesty. In Study 2 (N = 339), we experimentally manipulated individuals’ lay theories about honesty and effort and found that an individual’s lay theory that honesty is effortful increased subsequent dishonesty. In Study 3, we manipulated (Study 3a; N = 294) and measured (Study 3b; N = 153) lay theories, and then manipulated the strength of situational force that encourages dishonesty, and found that an individual’s lay theory influences subsequent dishonesty only in a weak situation, where individuals have more agency to interpret the situation. This research provides novel insights into how our lay theories linking honesty and effort can help us rationalize our dishonesty, independent of whether a particular moral decision requires effort or not.

Eye contact reduces lying
Jonne Hietanen et al.
Consciousness and Cognition, November 2018, Pages 65-73

The perception of watching eyes has been found to reduce dishonest behavior. This effect, however, has only been shown in situations where it can be explained by increased adherence to rules and norms, and thus a watching-eyes effect on dishonesty per se has not been demonstrated. Moreover, the effect has been investigated only with images of watching eyes, not in an interactive situation with a live person, which may arguably have different effects on behavior. In the present study, the effect of watching eyes on dishonesty was investigated with an interactive computer game of lying. Participants played the game against a confederate, whom they believed to be another participant. On each trial, they were briefly presented with a view of the confederate, after which they chose whether to lie in the game. The confederate alternated between the use of direct and downward gaze. The results showed that another individual’s direct gaze reduced lying in the game. The findings have implications for both everyday and professional situations, such as clinical conversations and police interrogations.

Good Looks as a Source of Moral Permissiveness
Robert Urbatsch
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: Regressions predict responses to morality‐related questions in the 2016 General Social Survey and the 1972 National Election Study, which included interviewer (i.e., not self‐generated) evaluations of respondents’ looks. These questions concern various actions’ moral acceptability regardless of legality, as well as policy positions on issues including gay marriage and marijuana legalization.

Results: Better‐looking respondents give more morally permissive responses to most questions relating to sex. For issues not directly related to sexual opportunities, however, attractiveness does not predict significantly more acceptant attitudes.

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