Paternalistic Lies

81 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2017 Last revised: 5 Aug 2018

See all articles by Matthew Lupoli

Matthew Lupoli

Deakin University

Emma Levine

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Adam Eric Greenberg

Bocconi University - Department of Marketing

Date Written: March 22, 2017

Abstract

Many lies that are intended to help others require the deceiver to make assumptions about whether lying serves others’ best interests. In other words, lying often involves a paternalistic motive. Across seven studies (N = 2,260), we show that although targets appreciate lies that yield unequivocal benefits relative to honesty, they penalize paternalistic lies. We identify three mechanisms behind the harmful effects of paternalistic lies, finding that targets believe that paternalistic liars (a) do not have benevolent intentions, (b) are violating their autonomy by lying, and (c) are inaccurately predicting their preferences. Importantly, targets’ aversion towards paternalistic lies persists even when targets receive their preferred outcome as a result of a lie. Additionally, deceivers can mitigate some, but not all, of the harmful effects of paternalistic lies by directly communicating their good intentions. These results contribute to our understanding of deception and paternalistic policies.

Keywords: Deception, Paternalism, Prosocial Lies, Moral Judgments

Suggested Citation

Lupoli, Matthew and Levine, Emma and Greenberg, Adam Eric, Paternalistic Lies (March 22, 2017). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 146, 31-50. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2927763 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2927763

Matthew Lupoli (Contact Author)

Deakin University ( email )

221 Burwood Hwy
Victoria, Victoria 3125
Australia

Emma Levine

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Adam Eric Greenberg

Bocconi University - Department of Marketing

Via Roentgen, 1 (4th floor)
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

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