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The relative effects of timing of suspicion and outcome involvement on biased message processing

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The propensity to believe information to be predominately truthful has been called the truth-bias (e.g., McCornack & Levine, 1990), although the lie-bias is the tendency to believe that information is mostly false. The purpose of the current study is to investigate the effect that timing of suspicion and outcome involvement has on biased message processing. A two-way interaction between timing of suspicion and outcome involvement is hypothesized. Specifically, suspicion induced prior to communication will make receivers more suspicious of the communicator and therefore encode more of their nonverbal cues as "suspicious" or "fishy." This effect is predicted to be magnified in conditions of high outcome involvement. If receivers are already suspicious, and carefully scrutinizing the message, it will be likely that they will note more "fishy behaviors" and demonstrate a heightened lie-bias. In two studies, Participants (Ps) were asked to view videotaped segments of a confederate making true or false statements. The Ps were induced to feel suspicious before or after viewing the videotaped interview. They were also induced to perceive high or low levels of outcome involvement. Results of Study 1 indicated that timing of suspicion has little effect on biased processing, but perceived suspicion did influence biased processing. Results of Study 2 indicated that the timing of suspicion did influence the strength of the truth-bias but did not create a lie-bias. Both studies demonstrated the strong effect of perceived outcome involvement on honesty perceptions.
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Keywords: Involvement; Message Processing; Suspicion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: New Mexico State University 2: University of Texas at Austin

Publication date: 2001-06-01

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