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  • This document is part of a JCR Manuscript Review History. It should be used for educational purposes only.





    Consumers often find themselves in situations where they are tempted to lie in order to gain

    otherwise unattainable outcomes and financial rewards (e.g. when refunding or exchanging a

    product, qualifying for discounts and promotions, negotiating with a salesperson etc.). This

    research examines how lying during the acquisition of a product or service influences the

    consumers satisfaction with the outcome obtained. Four studies demonstrate that because lying

    is cognitively taxing, liars are less able to use diagnostic cues offered during an exchange with a

    service provider, to update their outcome expectations. Consequently, liars are less prepared for

    the final outcome, which in turn, leads to more polarized satisfaction judgments. Liars are more

    satisfied than truth tellers following a successful outcome, and less satisfied than truth tellers

    following an unsuccessful outcome. This work suggests that lying may not only have financial

    ramifications, but that there are affective implications as well.

  • This document is part of a JCR Manuscript Review History. It should be used for educational purposes only.


    People lie every day. By the time an individual reaches 60 years of age, he or she will

    have told an average of 88,000 lies (Norman 2008). Although the majority of lies are told to

    facilitate social relationships (DePaulo and Kashy 1998) such as the recipient of a gift telling the

    gift giver that the present was exactly what he or she wanted, lies are also told to acquire

    something that would otherwise be unobtainable such as a child telling his mother that his father

    said it was OK to have another cookie. Consumers also tell lies. They lie to other consumers

    (Argo, White, and Dahl 2006; Sengupta, Dahl, and Gorn 2002); they game their emotions

    (Andrade and Ho 2009); and they misrepresent information to marketers in pursuit of better

    outcomes. And why not? The marketplace provides ample opportunities for consumers to lie in

    order to gain better outcomes and financial rewards. For example, the temptation to withhold or

    distort information may be particularly attractive to consumers when making warranty and

    insurance claims (Someone hit my car in the parking lot), refunding and exchanging products

    (No, I didnt drop the toaster), qualifying for discounts or promotions (That was the worst

    meal ever, so can I get that free dessert you promised now?), or when negotiating with a

    salesperson (I saw a much better deal online, will you match it?).

    When consumers tell lies in pursuit of better outcomes they may end up better off

    financially, but the transgression may have consequences for their satisfaction with the obtained

    outcome. To illustrate, consider the case of a consumer seeking a refund, knowing the reason for

    returning the product falls outside of the refund policy, but wanting the refund anyway. Does the

    consumer keep the unwanted product or lie about why a refund is requested? If the lie pays off,

    how will this influence the consumers satisfaction with the outcome?

    This research examines how consumers satisfaction with the outcome of an interaction is

    affected by their telling a lie in the process of obtaining the product or service. We examine lies,

    in the form of explicitly stating false information as true, to gain a better outcome. We

    hypothesize that lying will have a polarizing effect on consumer satisfaction judgments, such that

    liars will be more satisfied than truth tellers following a successful outcome and more

    dissatisfied than truth tellers following an unsuccessful outcome. We assert that because

    executing a lie is cognitively taxing, liars will be unable to effectively use outcome relevant cues

    offered during the exchange to update their outcome expectations, leaving them less prepared for

    the final outcome. The lack of outcome preparedness results in more polarized satisfaction

    responses to the outcome obtained (studies 1 and 2). By manipulating the need to update

    expectations to prepare for the outcome, we demonstrate that liars, relative to truth tellers, are

    less able to correct their initial outcome expectations, and that the absence of updating is the

    cause of polarization (study 3). We also test alternative explanations for the effects including the

    role of self-selection (study 2), arousal (studies 3 and 4), perceived norm violation and duping

    delight (study 4). We then discuss the theoretical implications of our research and explore the

    practical ramifications of our findings for marketers and future research. We find our effects to

    be robust and generalizable across a range of stimuli and contexts, including fabrications

    requiring a simple affirmation to a prompted question, to more complex lies involving the

    construction of a false representation of an event.

    In the next section, we first explore the link between lying and reduced cognitive

    resources and then examine the interplay of reduced cognitive resources and the updating of

    outcome expectations during a social interaction. We then discuss the consequences of outcome

    preparedness, or the lack thereof, on outcome satisfaction evaluations. Finally, the current

    research paradigms are outlined, before presenting four studies in support of our hypotheses.

  • This document is part of a JCR Manuscript Review History. It should be used for educational purposes only.




    Telling a lie is not easy. Several theoretical perspectives support the assertion that

    executing a lie is more cognitively taxing than telling the truth (Buller and Burgoon 1996;

    DePaulo et al. 1996; DePaulo, LeMay, and Epstein 1991; DePaulo et al. 2003; Ekman and

    Friesen 1969; Lane and Wegner 1995; Mohamed et al. 2006; Vrij et al. 2006, 2008; Vrij et al.

    2010; Walczyk et al. 2003; Zuckerman, DePaulo, and Rosenthal 1981). After all, the liar must

    craft and communicate a plausible message while actively concealing the truth. Both of these

    activities are a drain on mental resources. Not only has research investigating the detection of

    lies evidenced the substantial cognitive resources used when formulating false versions of an

    event (DePaulo, Stone, and Lassiter 1985; Mohamed et al. 2006; Vrij 2008; Walczyk et al.

    2003), but research on keeping secrets also demonstrates that the omission of the truth involves a

    conscious, constant, and effortful process of inhibitory control, requiring considerable access to

    cognitive resources (Lane and Wegner 1995).

    Given that lying is more cognitively taxing than truth telling, it follows that fewer

    attentional resources will be available for other tasks (Ellis and Ashbrook 1989). To this effect,

    previous research has found that people busy with regulatory functions process incoming

    information less systematically (Gilbert and Krull 1988; Gilbert, Krull, and Pelham 1988;

    Gilbert, Pelham, and Krull 1988; Richards and Gross 1999) and perform worse on concurrent

    cognitive tasks (Kanfer and Stevenson 1985). For example, people immersed in the preparation

    of their own behavior were less able to attend to other information in the environment, as

    evidenced by poorer memory for the behavior of others (Bond and Omar 1990; Brenner 1973;

    Lord and Saenz 1985; Saenz and Lord 1989; Swann, Pelham, and Roberts 1987). Additionally,

    Richards and Gross (1999, 2000) found that the effortful regulation of ones own emotional state,

    not only impaired monitoring of the external environment, but fewer cognitive resources reduced

    the ability to update existing mental representations on the basis of new information.

    In the context of lying, a potential implication of fewer available cognitive resources is

    that liars may fail to notice the targets reactions to their deceptive message (Butterworth 1978).

    Noting the listeners reaction is critical to the updating process because it may provide important

    information regarding the likelihood of attaining a successful outcome. Providing some

    preliminary support for this idea, Butler and colleagues (2003) found that participants instructed

    to deliberately conceal their true feelings during a conversation with an exchange partner were

    more distracted and less responsive, and therefore, unable to complete the basic processes

    required for conversational maintenance. Additionally, DePaulo et. al (2003), found evidence of

    reduced immediacy and involvement during deceptive conversation, suggesting that liars are not

    particularly adept at recognizing or responding to target cues.

    Even if liars are able to attend to cues sent by the receiver, they may fail to use the

    information to update their outcome expectations as they lack the necessary attentional resources

    required for correcting and refining their original evaluations. This assertion is based on previous

    research demonstrating that cognitive demands during an interaction damage the ability to use

    situational information in an updating process, even if it has successfully been garnered from the

    environment (Bassili and Smith 1986; Butler et al. 2003; Gilbert, Jones