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The Psychometrics of Deception and Trust

A substantial literature has been dedicated to understanding the effects of deception (e.g., Rogers & Norton, 2011; Rogers et al., 2017). Yet, foundational negotiation studies examining the interpersonal costs of deception have not theoretically or empirically distinguish between a single or repeated instances of deception (e.g., Boles et al., 2000). Consequently, much of the existing literature on the effects of deception has conflated the effects of using deception once and the effects of an individual being only deceptive. Across several studies, I examine contexts where individuals negotiate over multiple important issues and disentangle the effects of being deceptive once and being repeatedly deceptive. I find that deception harms trust, but that individuals are significantly more likely to trust and negotiate again with a counterpart who was deceptive once than an individual who was deceptive repeatedly. I find this is true across various forms of deception: lies of commission (Study 1 and 2), paltering (Study 3), dodging (Study 4), deflection (Study 5), and explicitly declining to disclose (Study 6). I also find the importance of the issue matters, and that individuals are more likely to negotiate again with someone who lied about an issue relevant to the negotiation than an issue irrelevant to the negotiation (Study 7). Combined, these findings reveal that although individuals punish deception, they also reward partial honesty and are more forgiving of a single instance of deception than has been suggested by prior scholars.

T. Bradford Bitterly
Hong Kong


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