People Shade The Truth To Attractive People, Then Forget Truth
October 15, 2013 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
FORT WORTH, Texas (UPI) — People mesh their feelings and beliefs closer to those who are attractive; since this involves lying, they forget their true feelings, U.S. researchers say.
Charles Lord, professor of psychology at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, found the attractiveness of others can have an impact on how much people lie or misrepresent and to the extent that we believe those lies/misrepresentations.
For example, Harry gets a call from a political polling organization and is asked for his opinion of the Affordable Care Act and he gives it the lowest possible rating. A few weeks later, Harry meets an attractive woman named Sally online. During their conversation, Sally mentions that she answered the same question by the same polling organization and expressed high approval of the healthcare legislation. She then asks “What approval rating did you give Obamacare when they asked you?”
This question poses a dilemma for Harry, Lord said.
“Should he tell the truth or should he shade the truth?” Lord asked.
To the extent that Harry finds Sally very attractive and is motivated to create a positive impression, he might shade the truth about his past behavior by claiming to have expressed at least moderate approval of the law, Lord said.
“What we know is that people will embellish or distort facts when telling stories, which causes them to oftentimes remember the lies more so than the truth,” Lord said in a statement. “Research has also showed us that people tell others what they want to hear. In this case, Harry will lie to impress Sally, and he is also more likely to fool himself into believing the lie.”
In experiments, individuals were asked if they agreed or disagreed with instituting “comprehensive mandatory exams” for graduating seniors. The respondents were then led to believe they would be meeting a member of the opposite sex who wanted to institute mandatory exams. They were also asked if their partner was physically attractive and if wanted to get along with him or her.
“In both experiments we found that knowing the other person’s positive evaluation in advance led participants to misrepresent their own previous evaluations, and this misrepresentation, in turn, altered memories for participants’ own actual past actions,” Lord explained.
The findings are scheduled to be published in the Journal of Social Cognition.