Don’t you wish buyers were like Pinocchio – that every time they lie, their nose grows a bit longer?

Most people admit lying during negotiations, say the authors of new research on deception published in the journal Discourse Processes. Among the clues, based on findings from a well-known experimental negotiating game:

  • Word count. Just like Pinnochio’s Nose, the number of words flowing from bald-faced liars grew dramatically compared to the truth tellers.
  • Profanity. On average, liars used more swear words than truth tellers – especially in situations where suspicions were raised by counter-parties during negotiations.
  • Pronouns. Liars used many more third-person pronouns than truth tellers. This is a way liars distance themselves and avoid “ownership” of the lie, researchers say.

Co-authors of the study are Professor Deepak Malhotra of Harvard Business School, and Lyn Van Swol and Michael Braun, both of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Source: HBS Working Knowledge.

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