'I Can See it in Your Eyes': Biased Processing and Increased Arousal in Dishonest Responses

46 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2015

See all articles by Guy Hochman

Guy Hochman

Duke University

Andreas Glöckner

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Cologne

Susann Fiedler

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Shahar Ayal

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah

Date Written: August 24, 2015

Abstract

According to Self-Maintenance theory, people notice their dishonest acts, and thus experience ethical dissonance between their misconduct and their positive moral self. In this view, dishonesty is facilitated by justifications that redefine moral boundaries. By contrast, the Bounded Ethicality approach suggests that biased perception prevents people from becoming aware of their dishonesty. We tested the key process assumptions behind these accounts using pupillary responses and fixation data and found physiological evidence for both kinds of mechanisms. In particular, physiological arousal increased at the initial stage of cheating responses. This suggests that people are on some level aware of their wrongdoings. At the same time, however, we found attentional biases that can reduce the likelihood for detecting potentially disadvantageous information. We suggest that dishonest acts come at the internal cost of increased tension, which people aim to avoid by preemptive biased processing as well as post-hoc justifications.

Keywords: pupil dilation, eye tracking, dishonesty, justifications, bounded ethicality

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Hochman, Guy and Glöckner, Andreas and Fiedler, Susann and Ayal, Shahar, 'I Can See it in Your Eyes': Biased Processing and Increased Arousal in Dishonest Responses (August 24, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2649894 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2649894

Guy Hochman

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Andreas Glöckner (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.coll.mpg.de/team/page/andreas_gloeckner

University of Cologne ( email )

Richard-Strauss-Str. 2
Köln, 50931
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://soccco.uni-koeln.de/andreas-gloeckner.html

Susann Fiedler

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Shahar Ayal

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

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