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[双语阅读] 心理研究:在结识陌生人的10分钟里,人们会说三次谎

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发表于 2010-2-27 00:26 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

Do people really lie 3 times within 10 minutes of meeting someone new?

It's a statistic often quoted to show how callous and heartless people are. It's the kind of number the misanthrope TV doc Gregory House (played by Brit Hugh Laurie) should have tattooed across his forehead.

But what kinds of lies are people telling? Are they covering up dastardly crimes or just oiling the social wheels? To find out let's have a look at the original research this number is based on.

Feldman et al. (2002) told 121 participants they were going to have a chat with someone new for 10 minutes. Then half were divided into 3 groups, each with different goals from the conversation:

1. Competence: try to present yourself so that the other person thinks you're are competent.
2. Likeable: try to present yourself so that the other person thinks you are likeable.
3. Control: no specific goal.

All the participants were secretly videotaped during the conversation then, afterwards, asked to point out their own lies. They were told that lies include things like falsely agreeing with others and the misrepresentation of feelings. Then, while watching the video, they wrote down all the instances of their own lying.

The tangled web we weave

The very first thing to say is that 40% of people claim to have told no lies whatsoever. Whether you believe them or not is a different matter, but it's probably not that far from the truth, after all there wasn't that much motivation to lie in the first place. It was just a bit of chit-chat in the lab, it's not as if they were trying to cover up a murder.

The other 60% did report some lies, though, with the average number being just under 3 in the 10 minutes. The lies they told were categorised as either subtle, exaggerations or outright lies. The most popular category of lie was the outright lie.

Lies were also categorised as to whether they were self-oriented or other-oriented with men telling more self-oriented lies than women. Overall, though, men and women told about the same number of lies, contrary to the popular conception that men are bigger liars than women.

But what, exactly, did they lie about? Lies were categorised by the researchers into 5 areas: feelings, achievements, plans, explanations and facts. Below is the breakdown for women and men in each of the 3 conditions: the control group, the group asked to appear likeable and the group asked to appear competent (these are averages for the 10 mins).

As you can see the most popular category was feelings which, in this study, included lies about emotions, opinions and evaluations. Lies about feelings were particularly pronounced when women wanted to appear competent and when men wanted to appear likeable. This is a well-known finding: people are often found to lie more about their feelings than anything else.

White lies

Lies about feelings are interesting because they are not something we prototypically think of as outright lies. For example when I meet you I might ask: "How are you?" and you might reply "Fine" when actually you feel like crap. Technically that is a lie. But there is also a social convention at work here; especially if you're a stranger I've just met. You understand that I don't want to know exactly how you are, it's a social nicety.

The question is: what is the moral dimension? The kind of lies we find most detestable are those with a malicious intent of some kind: lies designed to swindle or hoodwink us, lies that will cause us some pain down the road. Yet many lies about feelings are motivated by the exact reverse, they are quite often pro-social lies.

In this study we could just as easily argue that all the apparently 'bad' lying people are doing may well be of the 'good' pro-social sort. This may be especially true in the motivated goal conditions where people are managing their self-presentation to oil the social wheels.

So maybe many people do lie within minutes of meeting someone new, but as Dr House vividly demonstrates, an unceasing quest for the truth in daily life is asking for trouble. Without the lies we tell each other our social lives would be a lot more painful. In fact many of our lies show what nice, well-adjusted people we are.


 

在结识陌生人的10分钟里,人们会说三次谎。

这一统计数字时常被人引用,以显示人们是多么地麻木无情。美剧当中厌世的豪斯医生(英国演员休·劳里饰演)在这方面算是典型了。

但是人们都在说些什么谎言呢?他们说谎是为了掩饰卑鄙的罪行还仅仅是为了让自己在社会上更加吃打开?想要知道答案的话就让我们回顾一下得出这一数据的最早的研究吧。

菲尔德曼等人(2002年)告诉实验参与者,他们将会与陌生人交谈10分钟。研究人员于是将一半的参与者分成3组,每一组在交谈过程中都有各自不同的目标。

1 能力组:努力表现自己以便让他们留下你是个能干的人的印象。

2 可爱组:努力表现自己以便让他们觉得你是个讨人喜欢的人。

3 对照组:无特定目标。

所有的参与者在交谈过程中都会被秘密地录影,然后再让他们指出自己的谎言。研究人员还告知,对他人意见的苟同以及对情感的不实陈述都属于谎言的范围。接着,他们一边看视频,一边写下他们说过的所有谎言。

虚虚实实

首先要说的是,参与者当中有40%的人声称自己没有说过任何谎言。这一表态或许也有自己的道理,毕竟他们没有太多要去说谎的动机:这不过是在实验室的一次闲聊,参与者并非是要掩饰什么罪行。当然你信不信就另当别论了。

其他60%的参与者报告了自己谎言,然而,他们报告在10分钟以内他们说过的谎言平均少于3个。研究人员就这些谎言分成小的谎言,夸大之词和彻头彻尾的谎言,而最多的是最后一种。

同时,谎言也按照自我主导型与他人主导型进行分类。男性自我主导型的谎言要多于女性,但总体上来看,与人们普遍接受的观点不同的是,男性与女性说的谎言数目相同,而不是说男性更爱说谎。

但是,他们究竟都说了些什么谎言呢?研究人员讲谎言分成五类:情感方面的,成就方面的,计划方面的,解释性的以及有关事实的。下图显示的就是男性与女性在三种目标下的所说的谎言数量:对照组,能力组和可爱组(每组平均都是10分钟)。

正如你所看到的,最多的谎言是有关情感方面的,这在这次的研究当中包括有关情绪的,观点的以及评价方面的谎言。当男性想要表现自己招人喜欢或是女性想要表现自己的能力时,这种谎言就非常地明显。下面这一点是众所周知的:相对于其他类型的谎言,人们更容易撒有关情感方面的谎。

善意的谎言

有关情感的谎言让人非常感兴趣,因为人们一般不会把这种谎言当成彻头彻尾的谎言。比方说,当我遇到你时我会问:“你好吗?”,然后你会回答说:“我很好”,而事实上你感到自己糟透了。技术上这也算是谎言,但在这种情况下还有社会惯例在起作用,你明白我并不是真的想要知道你好不好,而只是出于礼貌,这在对方是一个陌生人的情况下尤其如此。

接下来的问题是:谎言的道德底线在哪?那些最为我们所憎恶谎言就是那些存心不良的:要么是那些用来诈骗或者蒙混我们的,抑或是那些在将来会给我们带来伤痛的。然而还有很多的谎言的动机却完全相反,它们很多时候是有助益于社会的。

在这次的研究当中我们可以毫不费力地有理由认为:那些表面上“坏坏的”说谎者也许是在做着一些使自己更为合群的事情。人们有时通过自我展现,自我推销以使自己在社会交往中更为顺利,在这种有目标的情况下,这种现象就更加明显了。

所以说,人们确实说谎,但正如豪斯医生向我们生动地展示的那样,在日常生活中对诚实太过追求是在自找麻烦。如果我们互相之间对自己的社会生活都毫不隐晦,这将会带来很多的痛苦。事实上,很多我们说的谎都显示了自己是一个令人愉快而又适应能力强的人。

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