When is a lie more of a lie? Moral judgment mediates the relationship between perceived benefits of others and lie-labeling

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Lay perceptions of lying are argued to consist of a lie prototype. The latter was found to entail the intention to deceive, belief in falsity and falsity (Coleman & Kay, 1981). We proposed and found that the perceptions of the benefits of others are also an important factor that influences the extent, to which an act of intentional misleading someone to foster a false belief is labeled as a lie. Drawing from the intuitionist model of moral judgments (Haidt, 2001) we assumed that moral judgment of the behaviour would mediate the relationship. In Study 1 we analyzed data coming from a crosscultural project and found that perceived intention to benefit others was negatively related to lie labeling and that this relationship was mediated by the moral judgment of that act. In Study 2 we found that manipulating the benefits of others influenced the extent, to which an act of intentional misleading in order to foster a false belief is labeled as a lie and that, again, this relationship is mediated by the moral judgment of that act.

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Polish Psychological Bulletin

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