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Increasing skepticism toward potential liars: effects of existential threat on veracity judgments and the moderating role of honesty norm activation.

Schindler S, Reinhard MA - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: With the present research, we investigated effects of existential threat on veracity judgments.In a first study, we found initial evidence for this assumption.Results revealed evidence for our prediction.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Kassel Kassel, Germany.

ABSTRACT
With the present research, we investigated effects of existential threat on veracity judgments. According to several meta-analyses, people judge potentially deceptive messages of other people as true rather than as false (so-called truth bias). This judgmental bias has been shown to depend on how people weigh the error of judging a true message as a lie (error 1) and the error of judging a lie as a true message (error 2). The weight of these errors has been further shown to be affected by situational variables. Given that research on terror management theory has found evidence that mortality salience (MS) increases the sensitivity toward the compliance of cultural norms, especially when they are of focal attention, we assumed that when the honesty norm is activated, MS affects judgmental error weighing and, consequently, judgmental biases. Specifically, activating the norm of honesty should decrease the weight of error 1 (the error of judging a true message as a lie) and increase the weight of error 2 (the error of judging a lie as a true message) when mortality is salient. In a first study, we found initial evidence for this assumption. Furthermore, the change in error weighing should reduce the truth bias, automatically resulting in better detection accuracy of actual lies and worse accuracy of actual true statements. In two further studies, we manipulated MS and honesty norm activation before participants judged several videos containing actual truths or lies. Results revealed evidence for our prediction. Moreover, in Study 3, the truth bias was increased after MS when group solidarity was previously emphasized.

No MeSH data available.


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Means of messages judged true (in %) as a function of norm activation and salience condition in Study 3.
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Figure 3: Means of messages judged true (in %) as a function of norm activation and salience condition in Study 3.

Mentions: Overall, participants classified 59.9% (SD = 14.62) of the messages as true. This value is significantly different from 50%, t(80) = 6.08, p < 0.001. Results of the 2 (Salience: MS vs. dental pain control condition) × 2 (Norm activation: honesty vs. solidarity condition) ANOVA on number of messages judged true (in %) revealed no main effects, both Fs < 1. However, as predicted, a significant interaction effect of salience and activation condition occurred, F(1,77) = 4.87, p = 0.030, = 0.06. As expected, when the importance of honesty was pronounced, percentages of messages judged true were not significantly different from 50% in the MS condition (M = 55.00%, SD = 14.85), t(19) = 1.51, p = 0.148, whereas the truth bias occurred in the dental pain control condition (M = 62.50%, SD = 14.62), t(19) = 3.82, p = 0.001 (see Figure 3). Although these results are in line with our hypotheses, simple effects analyses revealed that percentages of messages judged true in the honesty condition were not significantly lower in the MS condition compared to the dental pain control condition, F(1,77) = 2.71, p = 0.104. As in Study 2, we would like to note that the p-value is based on a two-sided test. Thus, given our directional hypothesis, the difference appears to be at least marginally significant. Furthermore, percentages of messages judged true in the solidarity activation condition were significantly different from 50% in the MS condition (M = 64.38%, SD = 15.85), t(19) = 4.06, p < 0.001, as well as in the dental pain control condition (M = 57.74%, SD = 12.17), t(20) = 2.91, p = 0.009. Again, simple effects analyses revealed that percentages judged true in the solidarity activation condition were not significantly higher in the MS condition compared to the dental pain control condition, F(1,77) = 2.17, p = 0.144. Additionally, simple effects analyses revealed that percentages of messages judged true in the MS condition were lower in the honesty condition compared to the solidarity activation condition, F(1,77) = 4.23, p = 0.043, d = 0.61. No significant effect of norm activation occurred within the dental pain control condition, p = 0.294.


Increasing skepticism toward potential liars: effects of existential threat on veracity judgments and the moderating role of honesty norm activation.

Schindler S, Reinhard MA - Front Psychol (2015)

Means of messages judged true (in %) as a function of norm activation and salience condition in Study 3.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4555659&req=5

Figure 3: Means of messages judged true (in %) as a function of norm activation and salience condition in Study 3.
Mentions: Overall, participants classified 59.9% (SD = 14.62) of the messages as true. This value is significantly different from 50%, t(80) = 6.08, p < 0.001. Results of the 2 (Salience: MS vs. dental pain control condition) × 2 (Norm activation: honesty vs. solidarity condition) ANOVA on number of messages judged true (in %) revealed no main effects, both Fs < 1. However, as predicted, a significant interaction effect of salience and activation condition occurred, F(1,77) = 4.87, p = 0.030, = 0.06. As expected, when the importance of honesty was pronounced, percentages of messages judged true were not significantly different from 50% in the MS condition (M = 55.00%, SD = 14.85), t(19) = 1.51, p = 0.148, whereas the truth bias occurred in the dental pain control condition (M = 62.50%, SD = 14.62), t(19) = 3.82, p = 0.001 (see Figure 3). Although these results are in line with our hypotheses, simple effects analyses revealed that percentages of messages judged true in the honesty condition were not significantly lower in the MS condition compared to the dental pain control condition, F(1,77) = 2.71, p = 0.104. As in Study 2, we would like to note that the p-value is based on a two-sided test. Thus, given our directional hypothesis, the difference appears to be at least marginally significant. Furthermore, percentages of messages judged true in the solidarity activation condition were significantly different from 50% in the MS condition (M = 64.38%, SD = 15.85), t(19) = 4.06, p < 0.001, as well as in the dental pain control condition (M = 57.74%, SD = 12.17), t(20) = 2.91, p = 0.009. Again, simple effects analyses revealed that percentages judged true in the solidarity activation condition were not significantly higher in the MS condition compared to the dental pain control condition, F(1,77) = 2.17, p = 0.144. Additionally, simple effects analyses revealed that percentages of messages judged true in the MS condition were lower in the honesty condition compared to the solidarity activation condition, F(1,77) = 4.23, p = 0.043, d = 0.61. No significant effect of norm activation occurred within the dental pain control condition, p = 0.294.

Bottom Line: With the present research, we investigated effects of existential threat on veracity judgments.In a first study, we found initial evidence for this assumption.Results revealed evidence for our prediction.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Kassel Kassel, Germany.

ABSTRACT
With the present research, we investigated effects of existential threat on veracity judgments. According to several meta-analyses, people judge potentially deceptive messages of other people as true rather than as false (so-called truth bias). This judgmental bias has been shown to depend on how people weigh the error of judging a true message as a lie (error 1) and the error of judging a lie as a true message (error 2). The weight of these errors has been further shown to be affected by situational variables. Given that research on terror management theory has found evidence that mortality salience (MS) increases the sensitivity toward the compliance of cultural norms, especially when they are of focal attention, we assumed that when the honesty norm is activated, MS affects judgmental error weighing and, consequently, judgmental biases. Specifically, activating the norm of honesty should decrease the weight of error 1 (the error of judging a true message as a lie) and increase the weight of error 2 (the error of judging a lie as a true message) when mortality is salient. In a first study, we found initial evidence for this assumption. Furthermore, the change in error weighing should reduce the truth bias, automatically resulting in better detection accuracy of actual lies and worse accuracy of actual true statements. In two further studies, we manipulated MS and honesty norm activation before participants judged several videos containing actual truths or lies. Results revealed evidence for our prediction. Moreover, in Study 3, the truth bias was increased after MS when group solidarity was previously emphasized.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus