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The Lies Consumers Tell

Christina Anthony

Research investigating deception in consumer research has focused on acts of deception by marketers and their effect on the consumer. However, consumers also have a motivation to lie in order to gain rewards that are otherwise not readily attainable. How will telling a lie during a negotiation with a salesperson alter the consumer's affective response to a good deal or impasse? Based on a series of experiments involving a computer simulated negotiation task, this research examines the counterfactual thought processes through which lying consumers come to feel better or worse than truthtelling consumers. The results show that given a good outcome, liars feel happier than truthtellers as they counterfactualize how the outcome could have been worse had they been caught. Given a bad outcome, liars feel unhappier than truthtellers as they counterfactualize how the outcome could have been better had they told the truth. This research extends work on counterfactual thinking, by examining lying behaviour which is risky in both a financial and moral sense.


Professor Elizabeth Cowley