404 Dishonesty Impact on Empathy

Research by Lee, JuliaJ., Hardin, A. E., Parmar, B., & Gino, Francesca (2019).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, M.S

We are taught,“honesty is the best policy,” but how does our being dishonest impact us and our relationships with others?

To effectively work and negotiate with others, we must understand others’ communications, read their emotions, and empathize accurately to assess their needs. However, dishonesty in a relationship may distance us and interferes with accurately assessing others’ thoughts and emotions.

Organizational psychologists studied if people engage in dishonest behavior,does this lead to their being less able to detect another’s emotions and thus have less empathy? Researchers completed eight studies with over 2500 participants using a dice game, storytelling, cheating to earn more money, and giving bonuses to those cheating.To explain this relationship, they assessed the relationship between dishonest behavior and empathic accuracy.

Results? Psychologists found a relationship between dishonest behavior and reduced empathic accuracy and a decrease in identifying themselves as being in close relationships. Justifying dishonesty and concern for being detected may distract us from focusing on accurately reading others’ emotions.

Beware, dishonesty may have a long-term effect on your ability to understand others and thus may impact your having close relationships and ability to connect with others!


Lee, J. J., Hardin, A. E., Parmar, B., & Gino, F. (2019). The interpersonal costs of dishonesty: How dishonest behavior reduces individuals’ ability to read others’ emotions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148(9), 1557-1574

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