Lying in Negotiations: How Individual and Situational Factors Influence the Use of Neutralization Strategies

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Lying in negotiations can cause negative emotions, so participants may use neutralization strategies to reduce these feelings. We conducted a 2 (ethical versus non-ethical climate) × 2 (low versus high negative consequences) experiment to examine how individual and situational factors affect the use of three such strategies: minimizing the lie, denigration of the target, and denial. Lying, psychological distress, and self-perceived moral attributes were measured as non-manipulated independent variables. One hundred and ninety-two MBA students participated in a business negotiation in which they were provided with incentives to lie. As predicted, higher distress was associated with greater denial of lies. In addition, climate and consequences interacted to affect minimization and liars engaged in less minimization than did participants who merely concealed information. Climate and moral attributes interacted to affect denigration. We believe these findings support further study of neutralization strategies in the workplace.

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Journal of Organizational Behavior, v. 26, issue 6, p. 661-679

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