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Does environmental harshness influence our decision to deceive?

Nothhelfer, W. (2020) Does environmental harshness influence our decision to deceive?

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Abstract:This study investigated the influence of cues of a harsh environment on deception and perceived safety, relaxation, and stress. The theoretical approach of Frankenhuis et al. (2016) on cognition in harsh and unpredictable environments was chosen, to look for an external factor, which influences an individual’s deceptive behaviour. The approach is based on evolutionary Life History Theory and suggests that humans adapt according to the cues they receive from their environment, to survive and reproduce. Past research supported the theoretical approach but has not yet investigated the effect on deception. It was hypothesised that cues of harshness influence perceived safety and perceived relaxation negatively and the decision to deceive and perceived stress positively. Two videos of a neighbourhood, one displaying cues of harshness and one not, were introduced as a new manipulation. Previous research influenced participants with newspaper articles or by sending them into actual neighbourhoods, which displayed cues of harshness. The new manipulation ensured better immersion and a true experiment, which is comparable and replicable. Participants (N = 106) were randomly assigned to a condition with or without cues of harshness. After watching the assigned video, participants got a chance to deceive, which was measured with a dice roll. The outcome of a Kruskal-Wallis Test showed a significant influence of cues of harshness on perceived safety (H(2) = 43.672, p = .000), relaxation (H(2) = 19.335, p = .000), and stress (H(2) = 15.787, p = .000). There was no influence found on the decision to deceive (H(2) = 5.472, p = .065). Due to a small sample size and a possibly not representative sample because of convenience sampling, further research was suggested, with bigger samples and even more immersive manipulations like Virtual Reality.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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