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Is Honesty the Best Policy? How Moral Principles Impact Ethical Judgment and Decisions
Honesty is considered a virtue in most circumstances, whereas dishonesty is often considered immoral and costly. This symposium showcases novel research studies, using different methodologies, that explore people’s beliefs about when and why honesty or dishonesty is preferable. Across research papers, we identify contexts in which individuals do not perceive honesty as necessary, and do not view dishonesty as unethical. These papers explore collaborative situations in which our dishonesty can help others, legal negotiations in which we choose whether to disclose information to others, and dilemmas between honesty and different moral principles such as cooperation or loyalty (e.g., prosocial lies, choosing to keep others’ secrets). We identify the emotional, cognitive, and social processes that underlie individuals’ decisions and judgments of honesty and dishonesty. Additionally, our findings underscore the importance of decision framing, emotions, and competing moral values in determining the ethical and interpersonal implications of honesty and dishonesty. The symposium aims to provide a broad perspective on the nature of honesty, and to advance our understanding of when and why dishonesty may be perceived as moral.