An Investigation of Pro-Social Lying in Successful Relationships

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Keywords: Pro-Social Lying, White Lies, Relationship Satisfaction

An Investigation of Pro-Social Lying in Successful Relationships
The present study examines the correlation between pro-social lying and romantic relationship satisfaction. We hypothesized that the more deception present in a relationship, the less relationship satisfaction. A survey containing a Guttman scale and Likert scale was given to one-hundred randomly selected individuals around the Knoxville area. The survey questioned frequency of lies within individuals’ relationships and questioned the overall quality of the relationship. A slightly negative correlation was found between pro-social lying and relational satisfaction. An Investigation of Pro-Social Lying in Successful Relationships In a study conducted by Carl Camden (1984), twenty students participated in a study in which white lies were collected and coded for analysis. Overall, findings confirm previous results that lies are often used to cope with difficulties in unequal power in relationships (Camden, p. 315). Therefore this study was conducted to develop an understanding of the correlation between pro-social lying and romantic relationship satisfaction. Pro-Social Lying

Pro-social lying, also known as white lies, can be defined as an unimportant lie, especially one told to be tactful or polite. Kaplar and Gordon (2004) believe “lie tellers may not be fully aware of what actually motivated their behavior” (p. 490) which can be better explored in research involving pro-social lying and relationships. By measuring the extent of which individuals lie can better inform researchers why individuals do it. When searching for information regarding why individuals lied, individuals may attend to evidence that justifies a positive construal for the lie. Thus lie tellers may give socially desirable responses and misrepresent their motivations for lying. In addition to white lies, this provides insight on the acceptance of lying in relationships whether to protect oneself or their partner. Additionally, research indicated in the 2004 article, “The Right To Do Wrong”, studies showed results indicating that adolescents and emerging adults quite commonly lie to their parents, and that in part they frame lying to parents as a way to assert the right to autonomy (Jensen, p. 101). The article’s results propose that college students and high school students may lie to their parents when they believe it is necessary to avoid conflict and to maintain what they see and believe as their right to make decisions independently of their parents’ influence (Jensen, 2004, p. 109). By reviewing all of the contributing factors, this relates to pro-social lying and relationships in the future. If people believe in using white lies early on in life, this contributes to why people may use white lies in later relationships and still believe they are ok. Since some of the contributing factors in early relationships like avoiding conflict and making more desirable images are used in parent-child relationships, then also seen in later intimate relationships between partners gives a definite reason to believe they are related. When studying persistence in lying and experiences while deceiving, Vrij and Holland (1998) determined that persistent lying was positively related to being manipulative, being keen on making a good impression and being good at controlling verbal and nonverbal behaviors (p. 299). A negative correlation was found, however, between manipulation, being keen on making a good impression on others, being good at controlling verbal and nonverbal communication and feeling awkward during deception, and finding it difficult to deceive, and expecting to give off signals of deception (p. 305). These finding suggest that the more persistent and confident the liar is, the more positive the situation in terms of believability. In context with lying in romantic relationships, it should be noted that lying...
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