6 Mar
2008

Motivation to deceive influenced by cultural self-identity

interculture

The recent inaugural issue of the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication (JIIC) features five different research studies that focus on a wide array of communication issues, including the exploration of cultural differences in deception. According to the report on Yahoo News, “the study revealed that a persons motivation to deceive is influenced by his or her cultural self-identity as well as finding that ones cultural identity greatly influences whether or not a message was perceived to be deceptive.”

Interestingly, the research suggests that “deceptive communication can actually serve a functional purpose” and according to Yahoo, also points out that:

  • People who strongly valued their own individuality over the social relationships reported having a lower overall motivation to deceive;
  • People who possessed cultural self-identities which emphasize placing group needs over the individual reported having a greater overall motivation to avoid telling the truth;
  • When people were presented with a scenario in which deception would serve to benefit them, those who valued their independence were more willing to use deception than in cases where deception would benefit someone else;
  • People who valued social relationships over individuality, reported a greater willingness to use deception to benefit others rather than for self-serving purposes.

More interesting are the findings when comparing western cultures with eastern cultures in this respect:

Western cultures have long been noted to cultivate members who value their individuality. Being a moral and ethical person requires avoiding any communication that would jeopardize ones own personal integrity, such as lying.

By comparison, East Asian cultures have been well-known for endorsing more indirect styles of communication to protect the image of the other and promote trouble-free relationships. Deceptive communication has and continues to serve as a useful tool in the maintenance and preservation of significant social relationships.

The Journal of International and Intercultural Communication (JIIC) is a quarterly journal by The National Communication Association, U.S.A. and Routledge, Taylor and Francis Publishing Group. Free access to the 1st issue of the journal can be found here, and you can also find a podcast and its transcript.

So, what do you think?

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