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Evidence for the Pinocchio effect: Linguistic differences between lies, deception by omission, and truth

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Evidence for the Pinocchio effect: Linguistic differences between lies, deception by omission, and truth. Lyn M. Van Swol & Michael T. Braun University of Wisconsin-Madison Deepak Malhotra Harvard Business School. Types of deception. Bald-faced lie Omission. Lie.

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slide1

Evidence for the Pinocchio effect: Linguistic differences between lies, deception by omission, and truth

Lyn M. Van Swol & Michael T. Braun

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Deepak Malhotra

Harvard Business School

types of deception
Types of deception
  • Bald-faced lie
  • Omission
slide3
Lie
  • A: Um, I’m giving you a dollar fifty.
  • R: You’re giving me a dollar fifty. How much did they give you?
  • A: Three dollars.
  • R: You’re lying. You know why?
  • A: Why?
  • R: Because I heard her say she gave you five bucks.
  • A: Well, that’s part of her experiment, she’s trying to fuck with you. Probably shouldn’t say that with the camera..whatever.
omission
Omission
  • A: Okay, so I’m allocating 10 dollars to you, so I don’t know if you want 10 dollars or not.
  • R: That’s fine.
  • A: I don’t know if you can deal with that. Okay, so how are you doing?
omission1
Omission
  • A: I’m giving you ten.
  • R: Ten bucks? So they gave you 20?
  • A: Ten is more than 7.50. So I figured…
  • R: Yeah. The only thing I’m interested in is if they gave you thirty or not.
  • A: Only if what?
  • R: The only thing I’d have a problem with is if they gave you 30 or not. And I know you wouldn’t dick me over, so.
  • A: And of course, we’d all figure this out later.
  • R: What?
  • A: We could figure this all out later.
non strategic linguistic cues
Non-strategic linguistic cues
  • Pronoun use: first person and third person
  • Negative emotion words and suspicion
  • Swearing and suspicion
  • Higher cognitive load: concreteness, sentence complexity, type-token ratio, connectives
strategic linguistic cues
Strategic linguistic cues
  • Word count
    • Pinocchio effect: greater words when reality cannot be verified/no concealment goals
    • Omission and reduced word count: concealment goal
  • Causation words
modified ultimatum game
Modified ultimatum game
  • Endowment amount
  • Roles: Allocator/Recipient
  • Recipient only has knowledge of range of values
  • Allocator allocates endowment between self and recipient
  • Recipient can accept or reject offer
  • If rejected, allocator gets nothing and recipient gets a default amount of 25% of endowment
  • Interactions videotaped and transcribed
method
Method
  • 102 dyads
  • Given either $5/$30 endowment
  • LIWC: Linguistic Word Count Inquiry software
slide10

Lies (n = 7) Omission (n = 26) Truth (n = 69)

Note. * p < 0.05, ** p < .01

# Higher numbers indicate more concreteness.

role of suspicion
Role of suspicion

Lies Omission Truth

multinomial logistic regression to predict offer type
Multinomial logistic regression to predict offer type

Deception Type = Lie

Third person pronouns (%) B = 0.95*

Number words (%) B = 0.45**

Note. * p < .05, ** p < .01

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Importance of context with word count
  • Without verifiable reality: Pinocchio effect
  • With concealment goal: reduced word count
  • Replicated past research with third person pronouns
  • Tentative results about profanity
  • Negative emotion words and suspicion
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