Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others

45 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2014 Last revised: 16 Dec 2014

See all articles by Todd Rogers

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Richard J. Zeckhauser

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Francesca Gino

Harvard Business School

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Date Written: September 18, 2014

Abstract

We document a common type of deception in interpersonal contexts: paltering, the active use of truthful statements to convey a mistaken impression. Paltering is distinct from lies of commission in that it involves only truthful statements. It is distinct from lies of omission in that it involves actively misleading targets rather than passively omitting to share relevant information. A pilot study reveals that paltering is a common negotiation tactic. Six experiments demonstrate that paltering in negotiation can help palterers claim value, but can also increase the likelihood of impasse and harm palterers’ reputations. Indeed, targets perceive paltering as the ethical equivalent of making false statements. At the same time, palterers – and outside observers – perceive paltering as more ethical than targets do. We add to the growing literature examining the antecedents and consequences of deception, demonstrating the prevalence and consequences of paltering in negotiation.

Keywords: Negotiation; Deception; Paltering; Risk; Lying

Suggested Citation

Rogers, Todd and Zeckhauser, Richard J. and Gino, Francesca and Schweitzer, Maurice E. and Norton, Michael I., Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others (September 18, 2014). HKS Working Paper No. RWP14-045. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2528625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2528625

Todd Rogers (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Richard J. Zeckhauser

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1174 (Phone)
617-384-9340 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1174 (Phone)
617-496-3783 (Fax)

Francesca Gino

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4776 (Phone)
215-898-3664 (Fax)

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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