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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Commun. | doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2019.00038

Differences in the Evaluation of Prosocial Lies: A cross-cultural study of Canadian, Chinese and German adults

  • 1Neuropragmatics & Emotions Lab, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University, Canada
  • 2Social Communication & Neuroscience Lab, Department of Communication Science & Disorders, East Carolina University, United States

In daily life, humans often tell lies to make another person feel better about themselves, or to be polite or socially appropriate in situations when telling the blunt truth would be perceived as inappropriate. Prosocial lies are a form of nonliteral communication used cross-culturally, but how they are evaluated depends on socio-moral values and communication strategies. We examined how prosocial lies are evaluated by Canadian, Chinese, and German adults. Participants watched videos and rated politeness, appropriateness, and predicted frequency of use of prosocial lies and blunt truths. A two-way intention x culture interaction was observed for appropriateness and predicted frequency of use. These results suggest that the evaluation of prosocial lies is influenced by an interplay of intercultural communication strategies depending on cultural group membership.

Keywords: nonliteral communication, cross-cultural communication, Blunt, White lie, Directness, collectivism, politeness, Social appropriateness

Received: 17 Apr 2019; Accepted: 08 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Jon Andoni Dunabeitia, Nebrija University, Spain

Reviewed by:

Carlos Romero-Rivas, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain
Alice Foucart, Center for Brain and Cognition, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Eva María M. Montes, Instituto Pluridisciplinar, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain  

Copyright: © 2019 Giles, Rothermich and Pell. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Miss. Renuka M. Giles, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University, Neuropragmatics & Emotions Lab, Montreal, Canada,