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Lying behavior in the consumer context

Authors Sengupta, Jaideep
Dahl, Darren W.
Gorn, Gerald J.
Issue Date 1998-05
Summary Research in social psychology suggests that motives such as self-bolstering and impression management can lead people to lie to one another during interpersonal communications. This paper extends our understanding of lying behavior to a new domain: that of consumer communications. We draw upon findings from research on both lying and symbolic consumption to suggest that lying about product-related aspects is particularly likely to occur when symbolic aspects of the product are highlighted in the social interaction. In particular, we examine lying as it relates to purchase price - a common subject of consumer communications. A third-party scenario method is used to experimentally examine if and when consumers might conceal the fact that a product was purchased at a discounted price. Consistent with predictions derived from an overall theoretical framework, we show that for symbolic products, the likelihood of lying about having received a discount is moderated by individual, brand, and recipient factors. For non-symbolic products however, lying is unlikely to occur, irrespective of the levels of these moderating factors. The implications for research on interpersonal communications, as well as for the literature on symbolic consumption, are discussed.
Language English
Format Working paper
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