Lucia Donsì, Claudia Toscano, Antonella Panico

Lying in the Name of the Collective Good: A Study on Developmental "Blue Lies"

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Lie; Collectivism; Cultural Influence; Social Cognition.

The present study investigated the understanding and evaluation, at a developmental age, of the "blue lie", i.e. lying to benefit one's own collectivity. 150 subjects of both sexes, divided into three groups (M a. 8,5; 11,7 and 20,4) were asked to evaluate the statements of the main character of each of 4 short stories involving a conflict between the benefit for the self vs. the collectivity, requiring them to choose between the two. There was a variation both in the type of statement (a lie or a truth) and the beneficiary (the self or the collectivity). The results show that there was a significant age-related difference in both identifying the beneficiary of the main character's statement and in categorizing the answers as a lie or as a truth, although not in the sense of a linear improvement. Moreover they signalled that the positive evaluation of lying to benefit the collective increased with age. There was a significant difference between the children on the one hand and the pre-adolescents and young adults on the other. This indicated a complex influence as regards the sociocultural context, and a need for further investigation.

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