Research Archive

People with Power Are Better Liars

Dana Carney, Andy J. Yap, Brian J. Lucas, Pranjal Mehta

Publication type: Working paper

Research Archive Topic: Leadership, Organizations


Telling a lie is costly: emotionally, cognitively, and physiologically. Lie-tellers experience negative emotions, cognitive impairment, physiological stress, and reveal this through nonverbal cues. The emotional, cognitive, and physiological resources taxed by lying are enhanced by the experience of social power. Power-holders enjoy positive emotions, increases in cognitive function, and physiological resilience. This research tested and found that holding power buffers individuals from the stressful event of telling a lie and leads to easy and effective deception. In situations of high (vs. low) power, lie-tellers appear like truth-tellers emotionally, cognitively, physiologically, and nonverbally.
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Carney, Dana, Andy J. Yap, Brian J. Lucas, and Pranjal Mehta. "People with Power Are Better Liars." Working Paper, Columbia Business School, 2009.

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