The Effect of Lying on Self-Control Depletion
D'Agata, Madeleine T.
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The goal of the current research was to investigate the impact of lying on self-control depletion. I hypothesised that lying would require more self-control than would truth telling. In Study 1, participants were assigned one of two topics, a favourite movie or a personal problem, about which they lied or told the truth in counterbalanced order on camera for two minutes. Following the first video in which they either told the truth or lied, participants completed an anagram task that served as the measure of self-control depletion. I found that participants in the movie condition did not differ as a function of lying or telling the truth although the means were in the expected direction. Also, contrary to my predictions, participants who lied about a personal problem were significantly less depleted than were participants who told the truth about their personal problem. In Study 2, participants were assigned to either deny or confess possession of an object in two interviews, but they actually possessed the object in only one interview creating the lie versus truth-telling manipulations. After both interviews, participants’ reaction times were recorded for the Stroop task, which served as the measure of ego- depletion. I did not find a significant difference between participants who lied first versus participants who told the truth first. Furthermore, participants assigned to deny versus confess to possessing the object did not differ on the Stroop task reaction times. Possible explanations for why the results did not support the hypothesis that lying is ego- depleting are discussed.