REASONS WHY MEN AND WOMEN LIE IN
HETEROSEXUAL ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
Bret Allen Anderson
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1991
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Communication and Theatre
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Bret Allen Anderson
has been approved
Anderson, Bret Allen (M. A. Communication and Theatre)
Reasons Why Men and Women Lie in Heterosexual Romantic Relationships
Thesis directed by Professor Michael Monsour
Romantic relationships are an important part of most peoples lives,
understanding how and why these relationships might fail or succeed is important
to romantic relational partners. There could be several reasons why a romantic
relationship fails to evolve into a more committed relationship; deception being
one of those reasons. This thesis investigated the use of deception in heterosexual
romantic relationships. 81 undergraduate students from western inner city
university were the primary respondents, 51 women and 30 men. The primary
researcher gathered information using a 5 page survey with 18 questions. Various
tests were used to analyze the descriptive data such as, z-tests, t-tests, and cross
tabulations. Several reasons were given for lying by both men and women such
as, lying to protect the feelings of their romantic partner, lying to avoid conflict,
and lying for privacy reasons. Women told more other-oriented lies, whereas men
told more self-centered lies. Perhaps by understanding the reasons why
individuals lie in romantic relationships, men and women will be able to
recognize when his/her romantic partner is lying and the motives for those lies.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
I dedicate this thesis to my wife Veronica, my daughter Tatyanna, my son
Christopher, my mother Dr. Beverly Anderson, my grandmother Vera Knight, and
my mother-in-law Lorraine Lucero for their patience and continued support.
My thanks to Michael Monsour and Sam Betty for their support, understanding,
and especially Mike for his patience with me during these past two years.
Definition of Deception.............................5
Rationale for Studying Romantic Relationships.......7
Rationale for Studying Deception in Romantic Relationships.10
Review of Literature...............................12
Limitations of this Research.......................62
Directions for Future Research.....................63
As she cried while leaving the cafe, Marcus felt terrible about the lie he told
and with the words he said, yet he did not have a good explanation for what had just
occurred. Wishing that he did have a good excuse made him reflect on what events
led up to this hurting situation. Just six months ago the relationship was alive and
real. It was all they knew and wanted. The couple spent uncounted hours talking and
sharing things about their past nightmares and future dreams. For the first time he felt
he was in a relationship that was honest and worth while. Also for the first time she
felt she had a committed partner, a partner who would tell her all of his intimate
secrets and desires. But would he tell her about the one thing in his past that might
scare her away? The waiter brings the bill of $4.25, Marcus pays and walks to his car
and leaves the scene with his head down and his life forever changed. He had to tell
her that story because she would not have understood if he told her the truth. In fact,
the truth was something he seldom told to anyone, including himself. Why did this
continually happen to him, he questions? How could he stop lying to his romantic
partners, he mumbled under his breath? Although the relationship was not over, it
was damaged, possibly beyond repair. This may sound like a script from a Soap
Opera or from a romance novel gone astray, but it is, unfortunately, a familiar story
that happens in many relationships.
The phenomenon of deception probably arose simultaneously with the
development of spoken language, and has been studied by scholars from a variety of
disciplines. Philosophers have an interest in deception because of the ethical
and moral implications of deception. Philosophers have two main interests related to
the topic of deception: the moral domain of intended truthfulness and deception, and
the much vaster domain of truth and falsity in general (Weiss, 1988). The moral
question of whether you are lying or not is not settled by establishing the truth or
falsity of what you say.. .[it is] to know whether you intend your statement to mislead
(Bok, 1979). Individuals from the field of Psychology study deception to categorize
the types of lies a person might tell in his or her romantic relationship, exploring
relationship satisfaction, the dimensions of dishonesty, guilt, and blame (e.g.
Peterson, 1996). Business ethics researchers study deception to explain the use of
deception in business negotiations as a device of mutual advantage for the negotiating
parties. According to the mutual advantage approach, deception provides a
constructive channel of indirect communication for the concerned parties, who have
mutual distrust for morally benign reasons (Strudler, 1995).
Advertisement deception research examines inference making from
advertisements and has demonstrated that readers of advertisements routinely make
inferences and then believe these to have been directly stated in the advertisement
(Venkataramani, 1993). Venkataramanis study examines involvement as a potential
moderator of the generation of deceptive inferences from advertisements. The study
goes beyond the demonstration of inference making from advertisements to study the
conditions under which invalid inferences are drawn by consumers at the time of
processing the advertisement. The topic of deception also applies to individuals in
the legal profession in the example of client peijury. When individuals engage in the
act of perjury they are exposing themselves to dire consequences such as
imprisonment. Lawyers have a responsibility to inform their clients of the
consequences of committing perjury (Holmes, 1994).
Perhaps the most relevant field to the act of deception is Communication.
After all, at its very essence, lying or deception is most frequently a face-to-face
communication event (Burgoon et al., 1994). Although communication scholars have
not conducted the majority of deception studies, communication is central to the act
of deception. Some communication scholars contend that deception occurs in all
kinds of relationships (e.g. Miller & Stiff, 1993). However, this thesis will focus on
deception in romantic relationships.
The remainder of this chapter will be broken down into five major sections.
Section one will establish the definition of deception to be used in this thesis. Section
two will establish the rationale for studying romantic relationships by delineating the
benefits derived from romantic relationships. Section three will establish the
rationale for studying deception in romantic relationships, focusing primarily on the
reasons why men and women lie in romantic relationships. The fourth section of this
chapter will review literature that is relevant to an investigation of deception in
romantic relationships. The review of literature will lead to a statement of the primary
research questions investigated in this thesis. The fifth and final section of this
chapter offers a preview of what will occur in the remaining chapters.
Definition of Deception
During a review of several definitions of lying the primary researcher
discovered there are a range of definitions for what a lie is and how it is formed.
Based on the review of four definitions of lying and deception, the rationale for the
definition that will be used for the purpose of this thesis follows. The first definition
of lying claims that lying is a significantly worse choice than other forms of
intentional deception such as equivocation and unintentional misleading. Both
choices aim for the victim to believe falsely, but only lying does so through asserting
what one believes false (Adler, 1997). Similarly, the second definition by Sissela
Bok (1978) says the moral question of whether you are lying or not is not settled by
establishing the truth or falsity of what you say. In order to settle this question, we
must know whether you intend your statement to mislead (p. 6). Adlers comparison
of lying and intentional deception offers a debate that lying is worse than intentional
deception in that intentional deception can and is used when being polite in everyday
life. Statements such as, I like your new hair cut, and you really did not do that
bad on your exam, are examples of intentional deceptive language used by
individuals in everyday conversations that are viewed as acceptable (e.g. Adler,
1997). Adler (1997) asserts that .. .where lying is an easier and more certain way to
mislead.. .the deceivers goal is to avoid blame; so he would not forthrightly want to
defend his action publicly (p. 440). For example, when Larry asked Frank at a party
with mutual friends where is Lisa? Larrys response was she is out of town on
business. What Larry did not share with Frank was that he and Lisa are no longer
dating. The fact that it is true that she is out of town on business allows Larry to save
face in front of their friends by not revealing the fact that they are no longer dating.
The intentional deception used by Lairy might be further successful because when
Frank inquires to one of Lisas friends about her whereabouts the likely response will
be that she is out of town on business. If, however, Larry chose to lie out right to
Frank about Lisas whereabouts, Franks future inquiries about Lisa would eventually
discover the truth. For intentional deception to be successful there must be some
truth to a statement made by the deceiver or the victim must accept or invite the
deception (Adler, 1997), as in the example above. But as Adler asserts, lying can
only be viewed as successful if the victim of the lie never discovers the truth. The
distinction Adler makes between lying and deceiving is clear. However, if I want to
be successful in my attempt to mislead I will tell a lie that either can not be
discovered, or I will tell enough of the truth so as not to allow the victim of the he a
chance to discover where the he is embedded within the story I told. Thirdly,
DePaulo and Kashy (1998) define lying as intentionally trying to mislead someone
(p. 63). If someone is going to intentionally mislead another person, I believe his/her
goal is to be successful in his/her attempt to he. The fourth reviewed definition of
lying offered by McComack and Levine, (1990) claims that lying is the dehberate
falsification or omission of information by a communicator, with the intent being to
mislead the conversational/romantic partner offers comprehensive coverage of what
constitutes a he. This definition asserts that lying is the dehberate falsification of
information, meaning Joe dehberately told Janis that he was not drinking yesterday
with his friends. Compared with a lie of omission, Joe neglects telling Janis that he
was drinking with his friends. For the purpose of this thesis I chose to use
McComacks and Levines definition because of its completeness. Also, the use of
this definition in the investigation of deception within romantic relationships perhaps
will make it easier to understand why individuals might lie in their romantic
Rationale for Studying Romantic Relationships
Empirical investigation of deception is important because personal
relationships in general, and romantic relationships in particular, are crucial to an
individuals emotional well being (McComack & Levine, 1990). Learning more
about romantic relationships will presumably increase our understanding of those
relationships and enable educators and practitioners to provide guidance on how to
have more productive dating relationships. When people talk about what is special to
them about their personal relationships and about what closeness means to them, they
underscore the importance of talking, disclosing, and confiding (Parks & Floyd,
1996). They also describe issues of authenticity, noting that they can show their true
feelings and be themselves, with no need to tiy to impress the other person. The
relationship qualities that people value predict important relational outcomes. For
example, self disclosure predicts marital satisfaction (Hendrick, 1981), and trusting
and confiding are positively correlated with the quality and enduringness of
friendships (Argyle & Henderson, 1984). Deci and Ryan (1991) believe there are
some primary psychological needs of personal relationships. One of those needs is
the need for relatedness. This need encompasses a persons strivings to relate to and
care for others, and to feel that those others are relating authentically to ones self (p.
43). If a personal relationship meets the needs of individuals, perhaps the individuals
involved will begin to love each other enough to begin a romantic relationship.
Possibly this loving romantic relationship can benefit those involved in several ways.
Kelley and his associates suggest what some of those benefits might be.
According to Kelley et al., an examination of the Love Scale suggests that
love has four main components. The first is needing: The person in love has a
powerful desire to be in the others presence and to be cared for by the other and
expects it would be difficult to get along without the other. A second component is
caring: The person in love anticipates wanting to help the other. Beyond needing and
caring, the Love Scale includes items reflecting willingness to establish mutual trust
through exchange of confidences and willingness to tolerate the others faults. These
components demonstrate the importance of love in romantic relationships as one of
the benefits romantic relationships provide individuals. Among the benefits of the
love components, care, need and trust are the most important. According to Kelley
(1979), care plays a more important role than need in judgements of love. In other
words, even though two patterns of answers to the Love Scale yield the same total
love score, if one shows strong caring and the other, strong needing, the former will
be judged to reveal greater love. It was found incidentally that need plays a more
important role than care in judgements of attraction. Trust is less important than
either care or need in judgements of love and attraction but plays an important role in
judgements of friendship (Kelley et al., 1983).
One benefit individuals provide their partner in their romantic relationships is
intimacy. When viewed from a communication perspective, the intimate dyad is a
very special social system. Intimates develop very efficient, smooth-flowing, and
idiosyncratic communications systems (Altman & Taylor, 1973; Gottman, 1979). A
second benefit that romantic relationships provide is the reciprocity of the feelings
between the romantic partners. As people move further into relationships, an
awareness develops that the more they allow themselves to care, the more they have
to lose. Their rising hopes and their personal investments in the future of the
relationship make them increasingly dependent upon one anothers plans and the
ultimate designs of the partner. They come to rely on the many benefits that the
partner can provide, the rewards they anticipate from increased closeness as the
relationship develops (Holmes & Rempel, 1989).
A third benefit to romantic relationships is that they are a good testing
ground for a possible marital relationship. Romantic relationships often serve as a
precursor to a more significant relationship, i.e., marriage (Kelley et al., 1983). When
a person becomes involved in a romantic relationship that relationship becomes a big
part of that persons life. Yet, if that relationship fails to become a marital relationship
or causes severe damage to an individual concept of a romantic relationship, perhaps
any future relationships that that individual experiences will be affected by the failed
relationship. By studying romantic relationships, specifically lying within romantic
relationships, perhaps researchers can provide individuals with a better understanding
of the possible causes for failure within a relationship which will perhaps lead to
understanding and avoidance of behavior that will cause a romantic relationship to
Rationale for Studying Deception in Romantic Relationships
There are three reasons for studying deception in romantic relationships.
The first of those reasons concerns investigating why men and women lie in romantic
relationships. Studying the reasons for lying will help researchers better understand
the process of lying and how this process might effect the stability or instability of a
romantic relationship. Understanding the reasons why some deceivers chose to tell a
lie to their romantic partner perhaps will help determine (if the lie is discovered) the
level of trust established in the relationship. Duck (1994) defines trust within
interpersonal relationships as a process of risk taking. Earlier, trust was shown to
correlate with friendship. According to Boon (1994) becoming intimately involved
with another is a venture in which two individuals strive to reconcile their needs,
goals, and desires and maintain the delicate balance required to preserve the
relationship and overcome the elements of risk associated with depending on another
person (pp. 87-88). Boon (1994) further claims that,
During the romantic love stage of relationship growth, trust may be little more
than a fragile expression of hope founded on an idealization of the partner and
bolstered by denial of any fears and doubts concerning the lack of hard
evidence to substantiate the optimistic forecast. Amidst the profusion of
positive feelings and experiences characteristic of this period, little
significance is attached to an actual evaluation of the partners motives; rather,
a process of projection both fuels and protects an image of the partner as
caring and benevolently motivated. It is no surprise, then, that trust and
feelings of love tend to be closely linked at this stage of relationship
development (p. 91).
Whereas the appraisal process within the romantic love stage focused
attention rather exclusively on the rewards and benefits to be accrued within the
relationship, during the evaluative stage the emphasis shifts to the symbolic meaning
of a partners overall pattern of behavior. Behavior, such as deception, is monitored
for evidence diagnostic of a partners underlying motives and intentions, particularly
with respect to the extent to which it signals emotional attachment and
responsiveness. The key issue of debate is whether such behavior is intrinsically as
opposed to selfishly motivated (Boon, 1994).
As the evaluative phase draws to a close, the stage is set for a period of
accommodation in which the partners must seek mutually acceptable solutions to
areas of incompatibility and opposing interests exposed during the evaluative stage.
In many cases the restrictive costs of increased closeness and interdependence have
begun to sting at this point, ambivalence and conflict are on the rise, and newfound
incompatibilities among partners may seem poised to threaten the relationships very
existence (Boon, 1994).
A second reason for studying why romantic partners he would help to indicate
whether a person has bed in a romantic relationship to preserve the confidence of his
or her romantic partner. Peoples expectations relevant to trust center on their
perceptions of their partners attitude toward the relationship, and on the perceived
quality and intensity of the affective bond. Individuals feel it is important not only
that they be loved but that they be loved in the right way, for the qualities they believe
an ideal partner would value in them (Rempel, Holmes, & Zanna, 1985; Sternberg &
Additionally, theories that focus on the development of close relationships
and the growth of interdependence between partners as the critical feature that helps
explain the particular issues that surface at different phases of development (e.g.,
Boon, 1994), provide a third reason why it is important to investigate why individuals
lie in their romantic relationships. Finally, perhaps trust evolves out of romantic
partners successfully confronting increasing concerns about dependency as their
By studying the reasons people give for lying researchers can possibly
identify what those people believe to be important in a relationship. For example,
some couples might believe that friendship is the most important aspect of a
relationship. John and Mary have been involved in several relationships before theirs
and have felt many feelings for the other romantic partners. Yet, their relationship
has survived the three stages of relationship trust by forming a bonding friendship
with one another. Others might believe that open communication is the most
important component of a relationship. For example, Susan and Frank have both
been lied to in their previous romantic relationships and made a concerted effort to
enter into another relationship with the idea that open communication would
eliminate this problem. Whereas others might feel that intimacy is the only important
factor of a romantic relationship. For instance, John and Sharon feel that the only real
expression of true love is through intimacy and not as much through open
communication or friendship.
Review of Literature
An extensive review of the literature across various disciplines failed to
uncover any studies specifically investigating the reasons why men and women lie in
romantic relationships. Though there are a number of ways of categorizing deception
studies, the scheme adopted in this thesis places those studies into five categories.
Category one reviews some of the theories that have relevance to the communication
process and theories related to how relationships form. The theories reviewed are
Berger and Calabreses Uncertainty Reduction theory (1975), Leslie Baxters
Dialectical theory (1998), David Berios communication model (1960) and Judee
Burgoons Interpersonal Deception Theory (1994). The second category reviews
literature specific to accuracy in detecting deception. The third category reviews
research pertaining to lies people tell in everyday life. The fourth category reviews
literature relevant to the outcomes of discovered deception in relationships, and the
fifth category reviews research that examines the use of deceptive communication in
casual and intimate relationships. Although the deception studies reviewed do not
specifically investigate the reasons why men and women lie in romantic relationships,
reviewing these five categories might provide concepts germane to deception within
relationships and the overall communication process.
The first category of deception research involves those studies and writings,
which directly or indirectly offer theoretical perspectives on lying in romantic
relationships. Specifically, this study will examine Berios communication model
(Berio, 1960), Uncertainty Reduction Theory (Berger & Calabrese, 1975), Dialectical
theory (Baxter, & Montgomery 1998) and Burgoons Interpersonal Deception Theory
(Burgoon et al, 1994).
According to Berio, the traditional purposes of a message based on the classic
communication model are to inform, persuade, and to entertain. In his explanation of
the classic communication model Berio detailed six primary ingredients: the
communication source, the encoder, the message, the channel, the decoder, and the
communication receiver, all of which help to simply explain the components of the
communication process. An example of how to apply Berios model to a deception
communication event would then look like this. Donna is the communication source
and her purpose is to find out why John came home late. She asks John why he came
home at 11:30 when he ordinarily gets home at 9, using accusational language. When
John hears Donnas tone of voice he immediately tells her a lie in order to cover his
butt. Because his past experience with Donna tells him that when she says things
using accusational language, the conversation results in a conflict.
Berios original model was not developed specifically to apply to deception
but could be expanded to do soespecially as it relates to the feedback loop. Some
of the ingredients that might play a role in this aspect of the process according to
Berio are the receivers communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, social system,
culture, and possibly the related experience. For example, when Larry is asked by
Susan why he likes to drink alcohol, his feedback to Susan is possibly determined
by his ability or inability to communicate with Susan. Another factor may be his
attitude about drinking, or his knowledge that Susan does not like for Larry to drink
and therefore he lies to avoid a conflict. Which then causes Susan to evaluate Larrys
behavior over a series of verifying questions, which require Larry to exacerbate the
lie he told. Based on these examples, perhaps deception should be added to the
traditional purposes of communication, informing, persuading, and entertaining. By
adding deception to this traditional model, the act of deception might be viewed as a
legitimate component of the communication process. Not only would the goals of
informing, persuading, and entertaining be important to a message sender.
Intentionally deceiving the receiver of a message might also be the goal of a message
sender. These are very simplified examples of how Berios model might apply to the
use of deception during a face-to-face communication event, but more importantly
these models help define the use of deception in communication between two people
and therefore can help define deception use in romantic relationships.
Uncertainty Reduction Theory (Berger & Calabrese, 1975) is aimed at
explaining both the motivation and the methods for communication in interpersonal
relationships. The theory proposes that as relationships develop, communicators have
a high need to understand both the self and the other in an interaction situation.
Communication generates that understanding and serves as the basis of relationship
development. The desire for uncertainty reduction is particularly strong in the early
stages of relationships when the parties know little about one another. To choose
appropriate behaviors for interacting with one another, communicators must be able
to predict each others behavior. Specifically, the theory posits that communicators
are motivated to reduce uncertainty about another when a) they see the relationship as
potentially rewarding, b) the other engages in deviant behavior, or c) future
interaction with the other is probable. Further, as uncertainty is reduced, the parties
feel more comfortable with each other and thus like each other more, resulting in
more intimacy (Berger & Calabrese, 1975). An example of how this theory might
apply to the reasons why men and women lie in relationships is when Jim and Donna
are beginning to develop their relationship and both see future rewards in this
relationship. However, Donna is uncertain about some of Jims behavior when they
go out to the local club. Donna might feel the need to interrogate Jim about his
behavior, demanding Jim to self-disclose why he acts a certain way. During the
disclosure Jim might lie to Donna about the real reason why he is uncomfortable
going out with her, causing Donna to be uncertain about the future of the relationship.
In order for Donna to uncover whether Jim is lying to her URT explains three
strategies, active, passive, and interactive that she would employ to reduce her
uncertainty about Jims honesty. In the first strategy Donna would actively seek to
uncover if Jim is lying. For example, Jim has told Donna a story that involves one of
their mutual friends. To determine if Jims story is the truth Donna would actively
seek out the mutual friend that Jim told the story, asking him questions about details
that might differ from the story Jim told. Second, the passive strategy would cause
Donna for example, to listen passively to that mutual friend give the details of the
story that Jim told to another person hoping to discover the truth by this means.
Finally, using the interactive strategy, Donna would ask Jim to tell her if the story that
he is giving is a he or if he is telling her everything she needs to know.
Understanding dialectical communication within social relationships requires
an understanding of what perspective one takes in the discussion of the term dialectic.
Baxter and Montgomery (1998) explain dialectical theory as a set of contradictions
that have endless possibilities within personal relationships. For example,
relationship contradictions like certainty versus novelty, autonomy versus connection,
and openness versus closedness are simple dialectical polar opposites. Baxter and
Montgomery recognize a unique kind of communication that is possible in personal
relationships and makes personal relationships possible, describing communication as
the bridge between partners and the relationships as the gap (p. 161). They also say
that close relationships, like all social systems, are always and simultaneously
comprised of both fusion with and differentiation from.. .both interdependence and
independence (p. 162).
From a communication perspective, the dialectic of honesty versus deception
would fit within a relationship dialectic. Maybe, some relationship partners feel that
if they tell a lie (e.g. a lie to preserve their partners feelings), this form of deception
will allow for the continued feelings of fondness between the partners. If they told
the truth, some partners might believe that honesty would damage the communication
flow within the relationship and cause a break in this process. The dialectic is that
there are conflicting and competing motivations to 1) tell the truth and 2) to deceive
in a relationship. For example, if Harry does not like Marys new haircut, part of him
says, lie to protect her feelings, while another part of him says, be honest,
because honesty is very important in their relationship. This example demonstrates
that perhaps there is a dialectical tension between the desire to be honest and the
desire to deceive. Also, the contradiction of being honest or deceptive might be
common within romantic relationships.
The dialectical perspective of William Rawlins (1989) also examines this
social process. The term dialectic implies several meanings, however, in the research
by Rawlins examining dialectical communication in young adult friendship, he
presents dialectical principles inherent in the communicative management of
friendship that might be germane to the focus of this thesis. Communicating within
friendships involves inherent dialectical features. The dialectic of the private and the
public articulates the tensions produced by friendship occupying experiential and
behavioral continua encompassing private and public realms, (Rawlins, 1989). In its
dialectical character, combining public marginality and private morality, friendship
weaves in and out of the larger social order like a double agent, fulfilling both
individual and social functions. Sometimes friends wear feathers borrowed from
other culturally sanctioned roles so that their relationship is viewed publicly as
acceptable (Rawlins, 1989). An example of how this interrelational principle might
apply to the reasons why men and women lie in their romantic relationship is when
Donna has a cross-sex friendship with her co-worker Pete. In order for her to go to
lunch with Pete, in public, on a regular basis, she has told Jim that Pete reminds her of
him and that Donna and Petes relationship should not worry Jim. However, Donnas
private motivation for socializing with Pete is to satisfy her desire to be entertained in
a way that Jim does not enjoy with Donna. Therefore, Donna feels she has to he to
Jim so Jim does not discover her hidden desires, increasing the desire to be deceptive
over the desire to be honest.
The dialectic of the freedom to be independent and the freedom to be
dependent conceptualizes the patterns of availability and copresence negotiated in
light of this voluntary essence of friendship (Rawlins, 1989). Rawlins claims that
basically, in forming a friendship, each friend grants the other a pair of contradictory
freedoms. The freedom to be independent is the choice to pursue ones life and
individual interests without the friends interference or help. In comparison, the
chance to be dependent is the option of calling upon or relying on ones friend in
times of need. Rawlins claims that both options create choices for the individual and
the other person. An example of how this principle might apply to the reasons why
men and women lie in their romantic relationships is when Donna likes to take a walk
every morning. Jim does not like to do this so he stays in bed while Donna walks for
about an hour. During one of Donnas walks she meets an old friend walking with
her boy-friend and begins to look at her past friends' relationship with envy. So that
evening Donna tells Jim about her encounter and asks if Jim would like to go along
with her the next morning. Jim reluctantly agrees. Yet, when the next morning
arrives, Jim tells a lie to Donna that he has suddenly became ill and needs to stay in
bed and rest.
An example of a communication scholars examination of deception is
Interpersonal Deception Theory, (IDT) developed by communication scholars Judee
Burgoon and her colleagues (1994). IDTs key assumptions are 1) interpersonal
deception activates strategic behavior on the part of both sender and receiverthe
sender, to create a credible performance, the receiver, to determine the credibility of
the senders communication; 2) as the interaction dynamic evolves, both peoples
behavior changes and influences one another; 3) the multiple communication
functions that must be accomplished simultaneously may facilitate or hinder
deception and detection success; and 4) interaction promotes expectations and
familiarity that guide behavior and judgments. IDT research involves those studies
and writings that articulate and/or test a specific theory about deception. A guiding
premise of IDT is that the act of communicating face-to-face alters deception relative
to noninteractive contexts, (Burgoon et al., 1994). For instance, when Joe lies to
Samantha in a face-to-face event she has a more difficult time discerning whether Joe
is lying. In contrast, when Samantha hears Joes story in a non face-to-face event, she
is more likely to deconstruct his story and clearly ascertain its truthfulness. In other
words, Samantha is more willing to believe that Joe is telling the truth when he tells
her directly than when she hears about his lie over the phone. IDT provokes this
truth-bias by affirming the fact that people talking face-to-face, over-credit honesty
with familiar others, which results in an inaccuracy in detecting anothers deception
(e.g. Burgoon et al., 1994). Second, IDT posits that familiarity leads to decreased
accuracy in judging truth. IDT also maintains that suspicion introduces additional
information-processing errors by altering attentional and attributional process (e.g.
Burgoon et al, 1994). Fourth, IDT holds that specific sender and receiver
communication strategies employed during interpersonal deception determine
detection success. Results confirmed that senders deception type and receivers
question type influenced receiver judgments (Burgoon et al., 1994). According to
Burgoon et al, (p. 319) what emerged from this investigation is a more complicated,
dynamic picture of deception... and that successful deception detection lies in
identifying a stable profile of sender deception cues. IDT is successful in
recognizing a more complex picture of deception in interpersonal relationships, and
replicated the importance of truth-bias among relational partners. However, the focus
of IDT does not reveal the reasons why men and women lie in their romantic
relationships. An example of how IDT might apply to the subject of this thesis is
when Donna gets the feeling that Jim is lying and therefore she begins to create a
strategy to catch him in a lie. This strategic behavior causes Jim to be more cunning
in his efforts to fool Donna. Another example might be Jims ability to lie to Donnas
face without sending signals that he is lying and Donnas inability to detect when Jim
is telling a lie.
The second area of reviewed deception research involves communication
scholars who have studied accuracy in detecting deception and behavioral control
(e.g. Battista, 1997). Battistas study examined the relationship between deceivers'
ability to control their cognitive reactions to receivers inquiries about the deceivers'
lies. Comandena examined the relationship between observer sex, type of deception
(i.e., factual versus emotional), level of familiarity between deceiver and deception
detector, and observer accuracy in detecting deception (Comandena, 1993). Another
deception detection study examined the relationship between relationship
involvement and ability to detect deception leakage (McComack & Parks, 1990).
Miller, Mongeau and Sleight (1986) defined intimate deception as deliberate
falsification or omission of information by a communicator with the intent of
simulating a belief that the communicator himself or herself does not believe (p.
497). Similar to Miller et al., McComack and Levine (1990) define deception as the
deliberate falsification or omission of information by a communicator, with the
intent being to mislead the conversational partner (p. 120).
Additionally this area of deception research examines an individuals ability
to accurately detect deception in intimate and friendship relationships (e.g.
Comandena, 1993, McComack, & Levine, 1992). The primary argument of the
research by McComack and Parks (1986) is that the relationship between relational
involvement and accuracy in detecting deception is mediated by judgmental
confidence and truth-bias (McComack, & Levine, 1992). According to McComack
and Levine (p. 152-53),
As individuals become increasingly involved in relationships, there is an
increase in confidence and ability to accurately judge a partners behavior. It
is likely that when individuals are highly confident in their ability to detect
deception, they are less likely to scrutinize a partners behavior actively, and
more likely to rely upon judgmental heuristics such as a truth-bias for
processing incoming information. In situations in which individuals are less
confident about their judgments, they will more closely scrutinize a partners
behavior; and so they begin to process information in a non-heuristic and
active fashion. The result would be a direct causal relationship between
increases in confidence and subsequent increases in truth-bias.
Truth-bias is an important construct in helping to understand why deception is
not detected in intimate relationships. According to McComack and Parks, even if
highly involved individuals are lucky enough to accurately detect a He, they probably
will not be able to determine what information the lie was designed to hide. From the
liars point of view, if one is involved in an extremely intimate relationship, the
chances of both having a lie detected and having the partner determine the
information that is being hidden are extremely slim. While there is a prevailing myth
amongst relational researchers and laypersons alike that intimacy enhances
perceptiveness, when it comes to matters related to deception between intimates, love
blinds (p.116). The definitions given by McComack, Parks, Levine, Miller,
Mongeau and Sleight are usefiil for the purpose of detecting a lie and for determining
what a lie is. However, their studies fail to ascertain the reasons why men and
women lie in romantic relationships. The reasons why a person Hes might be related
to the encoding cues that the Uar leaks to the receiver. In the example of Jim and
Donna, Jim might be able to tell if Donna is becoming increasingly aware that he is
lying by observing her facial expressions when he begins to give his reasons for not
wanting her to go to the bar with him. This might cause him to be more careful that
he does not get caught and eventually make him a better liar and give better reasons
to justify the lie.
Another example of how detection deception research might apply to the
reasons why men and women lie is when Jim does tell Donna half of the reasons why
he is not comfortable going out with her to the bar. But in doing so, he is successful
in hiding the real reason why he dislikes going to the bar with her. Donna believes
Jim has self-disclosed something important, yet Jim was mainly successful in hiding
the real reason why he lied.
Lies that people tell in everyday life is the third category of reviewed
deception research. DePaulo et al. (1996) assert that lying in everyday life is a fact.
They also claim people tell lies everyday for psychic rewards. Liars lie
overwhelmingly about themselves. Although many lies are about the liar and
someone or something else, more than 80% of the lies the participants told ...were at
least in part about themselves (p. 991). Most of the participants in this study
reported that many of their lies were generally not serious ones. DePaulo et al. also
discovered there were sex differences in the types of lies told. Women were found to
significantly tell more other oriented-lies than self-centered lies.
.. .the practice of telling kind lies was more characteristic of the dyads in
which women were interacting with other women than it was of the dyads in
which men were involved as liars, targets, or both. When men were involved
in the dyads, participants told anywhere from twice as many self-centered lies
as other-oriented ones to eight times as many. However, when only women
were involved, the percentage of self-centered lies was virtually identical to
the percentage of other-oriented lies.
Although DePaulo et al. were successful in categorizing and describing the
lies that people tell, they still did not uncover the reasons why men and women lie in
romantic relationships. The identifying of the sex differences in the types of lies told
does help in understanding what category of lies women tell opposed to the lies that
men tell. However, DePaulo et al. still did not connect the types of lies men and
women tell to the reasons for telling those lies. Further, the majority of the data
analyzed described the type of lies women tell to women and the types of lies men tell
to men. Instead of exclusively focusing on the types of lies men and women tell each
other in romantic relationships and the possible reasons for those lies.
The fourth category of deception research examines the outcomes of
discovered deception in relationships. In the study titled, When Lies are Uncovered:
Emotional and Relational Outcomes of Discovered Deception, by McComack and
Levine two significant outcomes were discovered: emotional reactions and relational
outcomes. The discovery of deception within a relationship tends to be an intense
and predominantly negative emotional experience; one which may lead to the
eventual termination of the relationship. Degree of relational involvement,
importance attributed to the act of lying, importance of the information that was lied
about, and suspicion all played significant roles in influencing the emotional intensity
of responses that were reported by subjects (McComack & Levine, 1990). According
to the McComack and Levine study, subjects were most likely to report experiencing
negative emotions when the intensity of the reaction was strong, they were highly
involved in the relationship, and both the information that was lied about and the act
of lying were viewed as significant (p. 131). Additionally this study indicated that,
more than two-thirds of the subjects who reported that their relationship had
terminated since the time that the lie was discovered reported that the discovery of the
lie played a direct role in their decision to end the relationship. Nearly all of these
breakups were reported as being unilateral, initiated by the recipient of the lie (p.
131). While McComack and Levine studied the importance of the relational and
emotional outcomes of discovered deception in relationships, they still did not
analyze the reasons why men and women would he in their romantic relationships.
The outcome of discovered deception might be linked to the reasons given for lying.
For example, if a person lies to protect her partners feelings, the outcome of
discovered deception might be different than if a person bed to protect him or herself.
A fifth category of deception research focuses on the use of deceptive
communication in close and intimate relationships (e.g. DePaulo & Kashy, 1998;
Peterson, 1996). This fifth category is the most clearly associated with the topic of
this thesis. The overall intent of Petersons research was to determine; a) how
frequently (if at ah) do couples utilize blatant lying, distortion, omission, half truths,
attempted deception and white lying in their intimate relationships; b) does the
frequency of using any (or ah) of these six deceptive strategies by self or partner
predict levels of satisfaction with the couple relationship; c) how do adults morally
evaluate these six types of deception of intimate partners; d) is avoidance of conflict
by means of deception a correlate of relationship satisfaction and e) if so, does
preference for deceptive conflict avoidance predict satisfaction over and above the
influences of frequency of intimate deception by self and partner. In Petersons study
80 first-year Australian psychology students took part in the study for course credit.
For the 26 men and 54 women each had to be currently involved in a heterosexual
couple relationship to be included in the study. Respondents completed
questionnaires anonymously and had to answer a two-part questionnaire. The first
part consisted of demographic questions, and the second part contained 12 stories,
arranged in six pairs. Each pair involved two examples of the same type of deception,
one with a female speaker and a male listener and the other with the genders reversed.
The pairs of scenarios depicted (a) blatant lying, (b) white lies, (c) failed lies, (d)
omission, (e) distortion, and (f) half truths. The rationale for two stories was to
represent each type of deception. For example, by giving each an example with a
male and female speaker, respondents opportunities to identify with a main character
of their own sex was enhanced. Second, as the same format but slightly different
content was used in each pair of examples (e.g. lying about a romantic phone call or a
romantic lunch), subjects were encouraged to ignore superficial details and focus on
the general characteristics of the particular type of deception being portrayed.
Results of the Peterson study showed that respondents reported using the
white lie more often than any of the other five strategies. Partners were seen to use
the white he more often than any of the other deception strategies, and to use
distortions and half truths more often than blatant lies. In terms of relationship
satisfaction, students who were gaining the most satisfaction from their couple
relationships were the least likely to conceal things from their partners by making
intentionally deceptive statements.
Rating the six categories of intimate deception on three dimensions of
morality: dishonesty, blame for speakers who use this style of deception with their
intimates, and personal guilt after deceiving ones partner in this way showed a
statistically significant over all difference among the six types of deception. The
blatant lie was rated as more dishonest apart from distortion. Additionally, distortion
was seen as more dishonest than half truths, failed deceit, and omission.
Two separate aspects of the influence of these six types of deception upon
respondents perceptions of relationships were also explored in the Peterson study.
These were: 1) whether each type of deception was seen as helping versus harming
the quality of the relationship; and 2) how much better or worse it would be to have
an argument with ones partner than to use each particular form of deception. In
terms of destructiveness for a relationship, the white he was deemed less destructive
than each of the five others. On ratings relative to conflict, the white he was also
clearly preferred to an overt argument by the group as a whole. Furthermore, white
lies were rated as significantly better relative to half-truths, distortions, or blatant lies,
and these were seen as worse than any other type of deception apart from omission.
To explore overall predictors of relationship satisfaction, totals were averaged
across the six deception scenarios for the following three variables: 1) own self-
reported frequency of use, 2) partners perceived frequency of use, and 3) own
relative preference for arguments rather than deception. Respondents who used
deception frequently in their intimate relationships were not only less satisfied with
the relationship overall, but also less inclined to prefer arguments to deceptive
conflict avoidance. Additional tests indicated that a respondents frequent deception
of the romantic partner predicted dissatisfaction with couple relationship over and
above any effects of respondents gender or age.
The findings of Petersons (1996) research showed a clear link between
deception use and relationship satisfaction. When respondents own self-reported
frequencies of using the six different types of deception were analyzed individually,
blatant lies, half truths, and failed deceptions were all statistically significant negative
predictors of satisfaction. Similarly, respondents who believed that their partners
made frequent use of blatant lying, distortion, omission, half truths, and failed deceit
were less satisfied with their couple relationships than adults who believed their
partners rarely or never attempted to deceive them in any of these ways, and total
frequency of deception by self and partner were significant predictors of satisfaction
over and above other variables (Peterson, 1996).
Although Petersons (1996) research has clearly identified the frequency of
and the types of lies individuals might tell to their romantic partners and the
relationship satisfaction outcomes, it does not expose the reasons why men and
women lie in their romantic relationships. The topics examined in Petersons research
such as lying to avoid conflict and the related guilt partners felt when lies occurred in
their romantic relationship, suggest that perhaps there are reasons behind the act of
deception. For example, when a person tells a blatant lie his/her reason for telling
this lie might differ from that same persons reason for telling a white lie.
Additionally, it might be reasonable to assume that there are sex differences in the
number and types of lies told in romantic relationships and the reasons given based on
the type of lie (e.g. blatant, white). The importance of understanding the differences
in the types of reasons given for lying in romantic relationships focuses on the
different stages within a relationship. For example, in the early stages of a
relationship a woman might lie about being a virgin. Whereas a man might lie in the
later stages of the relationship because of what McComack and Levine discovered
about truth bias. Because he knows that she loves him he may feel that she will never
be able to detect his lie and continue to believe him no matter the situation. Similar to
Petersons study, DePaulo and Kashys research indicates that there is a possible link
between the type of lie and the reason given for that lie.
DePaulo and Kashys (1998) hypothesized that people will lie less often in
close relationships than in casual ones and that when people do lie in their close
relationships they will feel more distressed than when they lie to partners in casual
relationships. They also hypothesized that more of the lies will be altruistic than self-
centered, that people in close relationships may fear that their lies are more likely to
be immediately transparent to close relationship partners, and that people would lie
less often to those relationship partners to whom they feel especially close.
The findings of DePaulo and Kashys study indicated that the participants told
fewer lies per social interaction to the people to whom they felt closer. Participants
also told fewer lies to the people with whom they interacted more frequently, and
they told fewer lies to the people that they had known longer (DePaulo & Kashy,
1998). DePaulos and Kashy claim that everyday lies violate the nature of close
relationships, and if peoples presentations of themselves to another person are so
distorted as to be deliberately misleading, and if they hide and fake their feelings and
opinions a bit too often, then their relationship with that person may no longer be a
close one (p. 75). DePaulo and Kashy also claim that,
Even in instances when close relationship partners believe that they might
get away with their lies when they first tell them, they may still fear that the
lies will be detected eventually or that the work of maintaining the lies would
not be worth the effort. There are also certain lies that simply cannot be told
to close relationship partners, who are already knowledgeable about the truth
of the matter (p. 76).
DePaulo and Kashy also assert that a little bit of light lying might serve
important privacy needs for individuals in close relationships (p. 76), meaning you
might lie about how much television you watched over the weekend because to you
that is a privacy issue and no ones business. An additional reason for this claim by
DePaulo and Kashy is that an individual might lie in his/her romantic relationship for
relationship protection reasons. For example, Sheila might tell Sam that he is the
only man she ever loved to make him feel secure about their relationship. However,
Sheila did love David before Sam and is still slightly in love with David. If Sam
found this out he would feel insecure about their romantic relationship, causing him
to avoid getting close to her and totally committing himself to their relationship.
Additionally, DePaulo and Kashy believe that the relationship between closeness and
lying will depend on whether the truth or a he would pose a greater threat to the
relationship. In the domain of serious lies, it is often the truth that would hurt the
most and force renegotiation of the relationship; in that domain, then, close
relationships may be breeding grounds for deceit (DePaulo & Kashy, 1998).
Some of the more specifically related information to the focus of this thesis
indicated that DePaulo and Kashys research determined that people lied in about
one out of every three of their interactions with their romantic partners who were not
spouses, but in less than one in ten of their interactions with their spouses (p. 77).
DePaulo and Kashys research also offered some reasons given by romantic partners
for lying. For example, romantic partners that told self-centered lies, such as, I
didnt mind him picking up a girl last night, told those lies to appear untouchable.
An example, of an other-oriented lie was when a romantic partner said, I told him I
loved the food he ordered for me when it wasnt that great. The participant in the
study explained this lie by saying she, did not want to make him feel bad (p. 68).
Although DePaulo and Kashys research did examine some reasons why
people lie in their romantic relationships, the main focus of the their study was to
analyze the number of lies people tell per social interaction to the people in their lives
with whom they share closer emotional bonds (DePaulo & Kashy, 1998). DePaulo
and Kashy did not exclusively focus their research on the reasons why men and
women lie in their romantic relationships. Also, the reasons they provided in then-
text was very brief, meaning they only gave one example of the reasons people gave
for lying in their romantic relationship. Perhaps a more descriptive study would shed
more light on the reasons why men and women lie in romantic relationships.
The deception studies reviewed in the research do not specifically or
exclusively investigate the reasons why men and women lie in romantic relationships,
however some of these deception studies provide concepts germane to deception
within relationships and the overall communication process. For example, deception
detection research could be linked to this research by understanding that if a person
tells a lie to his/her romantic partner, then this partner will have certain cues to detect
to determine whether their partner is lying or not. Another example within the
deception detection research comes from McComack and Levines discovery of a
truth bias that romantic partners gain after a long term relationship that decreases a
persons ability to detect a lie from their partner. The research focusing on the types of
lies that people tell in their everyday lives could be linked to this research because the
focus of the study is about lying. The results of this research implies that there may
be a link to the types of lies that people tell and the reasons for telling those lies. An
additional concept within deception research is the research involving emotional and
relational outcomes of discovered deception. Within this research, the type of he that
is discovered might effect for example the relational outcome of a he. Finally, the
research investigating the use of deceptive communication in intimate and casual
relationships clearly shows a link to the types of lies people tell (e.g. blatant or white
lies) to the reasons for telling those hes. This area of research is closely linked to the
focus of this thesis because of the description of the types of lies and the possible
reasons for telling those hes. However, the focus of this area of research did not
exclusively focus on the reasons why men and women lie in romantic relationships.
By exclusively focusing on the reasons men and women give for lying in romantic
relationships, perhaps researchers can provide the public with a more complete
understanding of how deception works in relationships and the possible negative
outcomes related to that deception. Also, by studying the reasons why men and
women he in romantic relationships, perhaps researchers can better explain how
much of a role deception plays in the forming and shaping of a romantic relationship
and possibly the types of deception that will not become detrimental to the
The general purpose of this thesis is to empirically investigate, 1) the reasons
why men and women deceive in their romantic relationships, 2) to determine if there
are significant sex differences in the number of reasons given for lying and 3) if there
are sex differences in the types of reasons given for lying. Specifically, the research
questions investigated in this study are the following.
RQ1: What are the reasons men and women give for lying in their romantic
RQ2: Are there significant sex differences in the number of reasons given?
RQ3: Are there sex differences in the types of reasons given?
I have already established the rationale for investigating the reasons why men
and women lie in romantic relationships, but why is it important to ascertain if there
are significant sex differences in the number of reasons men and women give for
lying in romantic relationships? Discovering if there are significant sex differences in
the number of reasons given for lying might possibly show a link between the reasons
men and women give for lying and the types of reasons men give compared with the
types of reasons women give for lying in their romantic relationships. For example,
men might lie in romantic relationships to protect themselves from being caught in a
lie. Compared to women who might lie in their romantic relationships to protect the
feelings of their romantic partner. In other words, Jason might tell more lies to
protect his actions because he wants to avoid getting caught committing those actions
by Lisa. Whereas, Lisa might tell more lies about how she feels about Jason because
she does not want to lose Jason and be lonely. Finally, the purpose for investigating
whether there are sex differences in the types of reasons given for lying might show a
link between the types of lies men and women tell to the reasons for telling those
types of lies. For example, Denise might tell a white lie to Harold because she does
not want to hurt his feelings. Whereas, Harold might tell a blatant he to Denise
because he wants to avoid conflict.
Additionally, there may be a connection between each of the three research
questions, but perhaps not in a systematic way. For example, if John gave the main
reason why he lies to his romantic partner as to avoid fighting with her, several
other men might have also given a similar, if not the same, reason for lying.
Whereas, Jennifers main reason for lying was to protect her romantic partners
feelings, and several other women gave the same or similar reason. This example
shows a connection with the reasons given for lying and the possible differences men
and women give for lying in their romantic relationship. For research question three
the connection with research questions one and two might not be as apparent. For
example, John may have told a blatant lie to avoid fighting with his romantic partner.
Whereas, Jennifer may have told the same type of lie (blatant) but she did so to
preserve the relationship. In other words, the type of lie may not connect in the same
way with the same reason for lying for both men and women.
The next chapter (Chapter two) will examine the methods used to empirically
investigate the three research questions of this study. This methods chapter will be
broken down into three areas. Area one will explain the types of subjects used for the
research. Area two will explain the procedures used to examine the subjects, and area
three will explain how the data was analyzed.
The primary researcher solicited subjects by going to seven classrooms at a
large inner city western university, asking for volunteers who were currently in or had
been in within the last six months a heterosexual romantic relationship. For students
who were not currently in a heterosexual romantic relationship, defined as a past
relationship, they must have dated for at least three consecutive months, and that
relationship must have taken place within the last she months. All students who were
eligible to complete the survey were given extra-credit points for filling out the
surveys. Most students completed the surveys during the normal class period. Some
students were allowed to take the surveys home and return them by the next class
period. Students who took the survey home were advised not to let their romantic
partners help them or view the written responses to the survey.
Participants were undergraduate students (N= 84). Thirty two males and 52 females
participated in the study. Fifty-eight of the 84 respondents were Caucasian, 3 were
Black, ten were Hispanic not of Caucasian origin, 5 were Hispanic of Caucasian
origin, 5 were Asian, and three participants categorized themselves as other. Eighty
students identified themselves as heterosexual. One person indicated he/she was
bisexual, one person indicated he was gay, and two women indicated they were
lesbian. The three students that indicated they were gay or lesbian were excluded
from the data. Also, 12 respondents were not included in test results averaging the
number of reasons given for lying because they claimed they did not tell a lie to their
romantic partner. The total number of respondents that were included in the data
analysis of the study was 81.
On the survey there were 2 seven point Likert-type items, 3 closed-ended
items, 9 open-ended items, and 4 items getting basic demographic information (see
Appendix A). An example of a closed-ended/Likert question is question number ten.
It reads, How frequently do you he or have lied in your romantic relationship? Place
a check mark on the appropriate place.
never sometimes frequently
An example of the type of closed-ended question asked in the survey is
question eleven which reads, Approximately how many times do you lie to your
romantic partner in a typical month? If you are reporting on a romantic relationship
that has already ended, how many times did you lie in a typical month? An example
of one of the open-ended questions is the following: Please list the reasons why you
lie or have lied in your romantic relationship. Rank order your responses in order,
with 1 being the first or the best reason for lying and continue listing until youve
completed your reasons. Please number your replies (e.g. 1,2,3).
Research question one asked, What are the reasons men and women give for
lying in their romantic relationships? The primary researcher categorized responses
from respondents answers to questions 13 and 18 of the survey. Question 13 read,
Please list the reasons why you he or have bed in your romantic relationship. Rank
order your responses in order, with 1 being the first or the best reason for lying and
continue listing until youve completed your reasons. Please number your replies
(e.g. 1,2,3). The method used by the primary researcher was to read 50 surveys and
list the responses given and categorize them by the number of times a reason was
listed. The other category was created because there were several reasons that were
mentioned during my examination of the reasons men and women gave for lying in
their romantic relationship that did not fall into any of the main categories of reasons
given for lying. The decision rule was that any category that did not have enough
entries to make the top four, yet had within three entries of the fourth place reason
would be placed into the other category.
Question 18 on the survey read, Describe an important instance when and
why your partner told a lie to you. If your partner hasn't lied to you please indicate.
The same method was used to categorize the responses. However, for question 18 it
was the why did your partner lie part of the question that I analyzed. The
expectation was that responses to question 18 would suggest reasons why individuals
believed they were lied to by their partner. The data for research question one was
analyzed using a cross tabulation of the reasons why respondents lied in their
romantic relationships by sex, and by using a cross tabulation of an important
instance the respondents romantic partner told them a lie by sex.
Research question two asked, Are there significant sex differences in the
number of reasons given? The primary researcher categorized responses from
respondents answers again to question 13 and question 17 of the survey. Question
17 read, Please describe 3 instances when and why you told a lie to your romantic
partner. Please use the space available. If you have not lied three times, please
describe the last once or twice if applicable. For research question two a t-test that
compares the average number of reasons given by women to the average number of
reasons given by men was employed to see if there was a significant difference
between males and females in the number of reasons given for lying.
Research question three asked, Are there sex differences in the types of
reasons given? The primary researcher examined the list of reasons given by the
males and the list of reasons given by females to see if there were differences in the
types of reasons given. Additionally, z-tests for proportional differences were
conducted to see if a significantly higher percentage of males than females (and vice-
versa), listed a particular reason. For example, though both men and women might
list as a reason for lying to protect my partner, perhaps a significantly larger
percentage of men than women listed that reason.
In the next chapter I will present the results of the data related to the three
research questions and an explanation of the descriptive data analyzed.
This chapter presents the results of the investigation of my three research
questions. Recall that research question one asked, What are the reasons men and
women give for lying in their romantic relationships?
The categories determined by question 13, which read Please list the reasons
why you he or have bed in your romantic relationship. Rank order your responses in
order, with 1 being the first or the best reason for lying and continue fisting until
youve completed your reasons. Please number your replies (e.g. 1,2,3), are as
1. to keep from hurting the relational partner
2. to avoid conflict
3. to preserve privacy
4. for personal gain
5. other, which included reasons such as to surprise the relational partner and
to hide sexuality.
The categories ranked and determined by question 18, which read, Describe
an important instance when and why your partner told a fie to you. If your partner
hasnt lied to you please indicate, are as follows; partners lied:
1. about their whereabouts
2. about outside relationships
3. about drug use
4. about drinking
5. other, which included reasons such as lying about their past sexual
partners, about their religious beliefs, about conversations, and about their
parents financial and marital situation.
As shown in Table 1, results indicate that 51% of the females (n=47) say they
lie to keep from hurting their relational partner, compared to 48% of the men (n=25).
Nineteen percent of the women indicated they lied to avoid conflict, whereas 24% of
the men indicated they lie to avoid conflict. The percentage of women and men who
lie to preserve privacy was 8%, whereas the percentage of women who lie for
personal gain was 13% and for men the percentage was 16%. In the other category
8% of the women responded with this category, whereas 4% of the men responded in
this category (see Table 1).
Reasons Why Respondents Lied to Romantic Partner bv Sex
Reasons for lying Females Percentage of Males Percentage of
1. avoid hurting relational partner 48% (n=25) 51%(n=47)
2. to avoid conflict 24% (n=25) 19% (n=47)
3. to preserve privacy 8% (n=25) 8% (n=47)
4. for personal gain 16% (n=25) 13% (n=47)
5. other 4% (n=25) 8% (n=47)
Recall that question 18 read Describe an important instance when and why
your partner told a lie to you. If your partner hasnt lied to you please indicate. The
data (see table 2), indicates 15% of the females partners lied to them about their
whereabouts, compared to 9% of the males (n=30) who reported that their partners
lied to them about their whereabouts. Twenty five percent of the females responded
that their romantic partners lied to them about an outside relationship, whereas 13%
of the male respondents indicated their romantic partners lied about an outside
relationship. Four percent of the female respondents indicated their romantic partner
lied about drug use, whereas 3% of the male respondents indicated their romantic
partner lied about drug use. Six percent of female respondents indicated their
romantic partner lied about drinking alcohol; compared with 3% of the male
respondents who indicated their romantic partner lied about drinking alcohol. Twenty
six percent of the female respondent answers and 39% of the male respondent
answers fell into the other category. Twenty three percent of the female
respondents and 32% of the male respondents indicated that their romantic partner
had not lied to them.
One Important Instance When Respondents Partner Lied bv Sex
Important Instance Females Percentage of Males Percentage of
1. about their whereabouts 9% (n=30) 15% (n=51)
2. about outside relationships 13% (n=30) 25% (n=51)
3. about drug use 3% (n=30) 4% (n=51)
4. about drinking 3% (n=30) 6% (n=51)
5. other 39% (n=30) 26% (n=51)
The connection between the reasons given for lying in table 1 and the important
instances given in table 2 are both direct and implied. For a direct example, Bobs
reason for lying to Brenda was to avoid hurting her feelings. He might have been in a
place that Brenda did not approve (i.e. he lied about his whereabouts), so he lied to
her to avoid hurting her feelings by not telling her where he had been. Recall that a
second reason for lying is to avoid conflict. Bob gave the reason why he lied about
an outside relationship because he knows that Brenda does not approve of his
relationship with another person and so he lied to her to avoid fighting with her about
that relationship. For reason number three; to preserve privacy, Brenda might have
lied to Bob about using drugs because she feels that her drug use is none of his
business and that it does not affect their relationship adversely. For reason number
four and five; for personal gain and other, the important instances that apply vary.
An example of where they might apply is when Brenda spent a lot of money going
out to drink with her friends, which is something she finds very enjoyable. Brenda
then lied to Bob about how the money was spent because they were saving money to
buy a sofa. But since Brenda spent the money on drinking, which Bob does not like,
Brenda felt it was important for her to lie to avoid Bobs accusations about her
selfishness. The implication is that Bob does not like Brendas selfish behavior,
causing her to lie about situations that revolve around that type of behavior.
Research question two was, Are there significant sex differences in the
number of reasons given? For research question two at- test was conducted that
compares the average number of reasons given by women to the average number of
reasons given by men. The results of the t-test indicated there was not a significant
difference (see Table 3).
T-test Results Comparing the Average Number of Reasons Given for Lying by Sex
Sex X SD P t-value
Male (n=24) 2.04 1.27 .51 -.14
Female(n=45) 2.08 1.38 .51 -.14
Research question three asked, Are there sex differences in the types of
reasons given? Men and women gave the same five reasons for lying in romantic
relationships (i.e., research question one) but there were differences in the percentage
of men and women who listed each type of reason. For example, 51% of women
reported that they he to protect their partner, compared with 48% of the men. A z -
test for proportional difference was conducted to see if the difference was significant.
Results from the first z test indicate there was not a significant difference in
the percentage of men and women who he to keep from hurting their relational
partner. The first type of reason for lying was to preserve the partners feelings or to
preserve the relationship. The results of the data indicated that 31% of the female
respondents (n=45) told a he to preserve their partners feelings or the relationship.
Thirty three percent of the male respondents (n=24) indicated they told a he to
preserve their partners feelings or the relationship. The results of the z test
indicates a lack of a statistically significant difference. A second type of reason given
for lying was to avoid conflict. Thirty three percent of the female respondents
indicated they told a he to avoid conflict, whereas 21% of the male respondents
indicated they told a he to avoid conflict. The results of the z test indicates a lack of
a statistically significant difference. A third type of reason given for lying was to
preserve their privacy. Twenty four percent of the female respondents indicated they
told a he to preserve their privacy, whereas, 42% of the male respondents indicated
they told the same type of he. The results of the z test indicates a lack of a
statistically significant difference. A fourth type of reason given for lying was for
personal gain. Eight percent of the female respondents indicated they told a lie for
personal gain. Sixteen percent of the male respondents indicated they told this type
of he. The results of the z test indicates a lack of a statistically significant
difference. In the other category, 2% of the female respondents and 4% of the male
respondents indicated they told a he within this category. The results of the z test
for proportional differences indicates a lack of a statistically significant difference
(see Table 4). Also, see Table 4 for z-test results.
Type of Lie Respondents Told to Their Partner bv Sex and Z-test Results for
Type of Lie_______________Percentage of Males Percentage of Females z results
1. avoid hurting relational partner 33% (n=24) 31% (n=45) -.17*
2. to avoid conflict 21% (n=24) 33% (n=45) -1.06*
3. to preserve privacy 42% (n=24) 24% (n=45) -1.56*
4. for personal gain 16% (n=24) 8% (n=45) -5.20*
5. other 4% (n=24) 2% (n=45) 1.80*
*Note: z-score significance = + 1.96
The categories determined for Table 5 are as follows:
1. Questions related to sexual intercourse
2. Self-centered lies
3. About a past relationship
4. To preserve the relationship
5. Other, such as, getting ready, to get sympathy, and about partners
The data, as shown in Table 5: When And Why Respondents Lied In Their
Romantic Relationship By Sex, indicates 21% of the female respondents (n=51) told
a he to their partner when asked a question about sex. Only 3% of the male
respondents (n=30) indicate they told a he to their partner when asked a question
about sex. Fifty four percent of the female respondents indicated they told a he to
avoid an issue, whereas 47% of the male respondents indicated they told a he to avoid
an issue. Twenty five percent of the female respondents indicated they told a he to
their partner about a past relationship, whereas, 15% of the male respondents
indicated they told a he to their partner about a past relationships. Twenty five
percent of the female respondents indicated they told a he to preserve the relationship.
Compared to 22% of the male respondents indicated they told this type of he. In the
other category, 67% of the female respondents and 50% of the male respondents
indicated they told a he within this category (see Table 5).
When and Whv Respondents Lied in Their Romantic Relationship bv Sex
Reason given Percentage of Males Percentage of Females
1. Questions related to sexual intercourse 3% (n=30) 21% (n=51)
2. Self-centered hes 47% (n=30) 54% (n=51)
3. About a past relationship 15% (n=30) 25% (n=51)
4. To preserve the relationship 22% (n=30) 25% (n=51)
5. Other 50% (n=30) 67% (n=51)
Though no research question was posed about the number of lies told by men
and women in romantic relationships, some descriptive data gathered will be
presented, and the results of five z-tests for proportional differences. Recall that
question 11 on the survey read Approximately how many times do you lie to your
romantic partner in a typical month? If you are reporting on a romantic relationship
that has already ended, how many times did you he in a typical month? As shown in
Table 6, the data indicates 13% of the females responding to question 11 (n=46)
never told a lie. Compared with 26% of the males responding to question 11 (n=30)
indicated they never he in their romantic relationship. The results of the z test for
proportional differences indicates a lack of a statistically significant difference. Thirty
percent of the female respondents indicated they have told one he, and 2% of the
male respondents indicated they have told one he. The results of the z test for
proportional differences indicates a lack of a statistically significant difference.
Twenty six percent of the female respondents indicated they had told two lies in their
romantic relationship, compared with 3% of the male respondents indicated they had
told two lies in their romantic relationship. The results of the z test indicates a lack
of a statistically significant difference. Eleven percent of the female respondents
indicated they told between 3-4 lies in their romantic relationship, compared with 3%
of the males that indicated they told between 3-4 lies in their romantic relationship.
The results of the z test indicates a lack of a statistically significant difference.
Nineteen percent of the female respondents and 2% of the male respondents indicated
they had told greater than 4 lies in their romantic relationship. The results of the z -
test indicates a lack of a statistically significant difference (see Table 6).
Number of Times Each Respondent Lied in Their Romantic Relationship bv Sex and
Z-test Results for Proportional Difference
Number of Times Lied Percentage of Males Percentage of Females z results
1. never told a lie 26% (n=30) 13% (n=46) -1.62*
2. told one lie 2% (n=30) 30% (n=46) 0.09*
3. told two lies 3% (n=30) 26% (n=46) -0.44*
4. told 3-4 lies 3% (n=30) 11% (n=46) -2.37*
5. told greater than 4 lies 2% (n=30) 19% (n=46) -0.12*
*Note: z-score significance = + 1.96
As shown in Table 7, 25% of the female respondents (n=51) have not caught
their romantic partner in a lie. Whereas, 37% of the male respondents (n=30)
indicated they have not caught their romantic partner in a lie. Twenty five percent of
the female respondents indicated they have caught their romantic partner in a lie once,
whereas, 34% of the male respondents indicated they have caught their romantic
partner in a he once. Thirty two percent of the female respondents indicated they
have caught their romantic partner in two lies, compared with, 28% of the male
respondents indicated they have caught their romantic partner in two lies. Of the
females respondents, 9% indicated they have caught their romantic partner between
3-4 lies and 4% indicated they have caught their romantic partner in greater than 5
lies. None of the male respondents indicated they have not caught their romantic
partner in more than 3 lies. Results from the t-test indicate there is significance in the
number of females and males who caught their partner in a lie (see table 7).
Number of Times Respondents Caught their Romantic Partner in a Lie bv Sex
Times caught Percentage of Males Percentage of Females
1. never caught 37% (n=30) 25% (n=51)
2. caught once 34% (n=30) 25% (n=51)
3. caught twice 28% (n=30) 32% (n=51)
4. caught three to four times 0 (n=30) 9% (n=51)
5. greater than five 0 (n=30) 4% (n=51)
T-test Results Comparing the Average Number of Times Respondents Caught their
Romantic Partner in a Lie bv Sex
Sex X SD P t-value
Male (n=24) .906 .818 .041 -2.31
Female (n=45) 1.42 1.09 .041 -2.31
In the next chapter I will provide a discussion of the data and discuss some of
the limitations of this research and offer directions for future research.
If the reader will recall, the purpose of this thesis was to empirically
investigate the reasons why men and women lie in romantic relationships. During the
examination of the reasons why men and women he in their romantic relationships,
the importance of studying deception was also discussed. Deception was shown to be
an important component of the overall communication process in chapter one with the
discussion of Berios (1960) communication process, Burgoon et al. (1994)
Interpersonal Deception Theory, Bergers and Calabreses (1975) Uncertainty
Reduction Theory, and Baxters (1998) Dialectical theory. Also during the
investigation of deception in romantic relationships, the primary researcher attempted
to make a connection between the use of deception in romantic relationships and the
reasons for that deception. If deception plays an important role in the communication
process, then perhaps there might be a connection between the types of deception and
the reasons for using deception during a communication event. Three research
questions were asked to investigate the connection between deception and the
possible reasons for using deception in romantic relationships.
Recall that research question one asked, What are the reasons men and
women give for lying in their romantic relationships? The results of the
investigation of this research question showed that both men and women lied for the
same reasons (see table 1), yet the percentage of the men and women who lied for
particular reasons differed. Additionally, both men and women were found to report
similar important instances when they lied to their romantic partner. Again the
percentages were different for each sex (see table 2). The connection between the
reasons given for lying in table 1 and the important instances given in table 2 are both
direct and implied. There were several combinations of connections between the
reasons respondents lied to their romantic partner. During the literature review, I
briefly argued that there is a dialectical tension within individuals in romantic
relationships to deceive or to be honest. The results from research question one
indicates there may be cause to believe this case to be true. The data suggests that the
dialectic of honesty versus deceit is tied to the dialectics of interdependency versus
dependency and openness versus privacy. The majority of the participants indicated
that they lied to their romantic partner to preserve their partners feelings (see table
1). As Baxter and Montgomery (1998) claim, both oppositions, such as honesty and
deception, operate simultaneously within relationships. Since honesty and
deception cannot be thought of in isolation, meaning to understand honesty then one
must also understand deception (e.g. Froemling, 1998), then perhaps a honesty or
deception tension forms in romantic relationships. Perhaps the discovery of this
honesty versus deception dialectical tension will help educators and researchers
understand and further explain the dynamics of relationship development. Educators,
researchers, and lay people need to understand this tension to better manage how a
relationship forms. Additionally, the understanding of this honesty versus deception
tension is important because individuals who engage in romantic relationships,
hoping those relationships will lead to marriage, perhaps will allow for this period of
tension and negotiate an understanding so the relationship will progress to the
A possible reason why research question number one lead to the discovery of
this dialectical tension stems from the design of the survey. Question number seven
read If you are currently in a romantic relationship, how long have you been in it?
Please indicate the approximate number of years and months. The majority of the
respondents indicated their relationship was equal to or less than two years old, which
might indicate the point at which this honesty versus deception relationship tension
manifests. If so, then undoubtedly relationship researchers would like to further
explore this possibility. The study by DePaulo and Kashy indicated that participants
told fewer lies per social interaction to people to whom they felt closer. They also
claim that participants told fewer lies to people with whom they interacted more
frequently, and they told fewer lies to the people that they had known longer
(DePaulo & Kashy, 1998). In other words, participants tended to lie less to people
who were close to them and with whom they had more personal encounters. The
results of DePaulo and Kashys study indicated people lied in about one out of every
three interactions with non-spouse romantic partners. The results of research question
one of this study indicates that participants he to their close relationship partner, yet
the results of research question one revealed that individuals lie more to their
romantic partner for specific reasons. In DePaulo and Kashys investigation they
claim that a little bit of light lying might serve important privacy needs (p. 76), and
they also assert that people tell self-centered and other-oriented lies as motives for
their deception. For example, women might have told more other-oriented lies and
men might have told more self-centered lies. Although the type of he was different,
the motives for telling that he were the same. For example, one male respondent told
a he to his partner to avoid hurting her feelings, yet I categorized his type of he as
being self-centered. He said, I hed so that I would not get in trouble. Compared
with a female respondent that gave the same reason for lying, yet her type of he was
categorized as being other-oriented. She said, I hed so he would feel better about
himself and the relationship. DePaulo and Kashys claim that although serious lies
might hurt the relationship, people still tell these types of lies, making close
relationships breeding grounds for deceit.
My investigation demonstrated that both men and women he in romantic
relationships, making romantic relationships constant breeding grounds for various
levels of deceit. For example, one male respondent claimed that he hed to his
romantic partner about his mothers feelings toward her. He went on to say that his
mother does not like the fact that his girlfriend is catholic and she wished he could
find a good Jewish girlfriend. Not only did he not tell his girlfriend about his mothers
feelings, he claims he told his girlfriend that his mother liked her so she would not
feel uncomfortable around his mother. The possibility that a large number of
romantic relationships might encounter this type of lying might be important for
researchers to understand because it might help to explain the reasons why and in
what instances people will lie. Question number 17, which asks participants to
please describe 3 instances when and why you told a he to your romantic partner...
possibly lead to the descriptive information explained above.
Research question two asked, Are there significant sex differences in the
number of reasons given? The t-test results of this question indicated there was no
significant difference in the number of reasons given. Although my t-test showed that
there was not a statistically significant difference between men and women in the
number of reasons given for lying, a different interpretation of my data suggests that
there might be differences. Recall that in the literature review DePaulo et al. claimed
that women were found to significantly tell more other-oriented lies than self-
centered lies. This discovery indicates that the motives or reasons for lying for both
women and men might differ depending on the relationship and the situation. For
example, women might tell an other-oriented lie to avoid conflict, whereas men might
tell other-oriented lies to keep from hurting their partners feelings. Responses to
question 16, which read Please explain the type of lie you told.. .categorize those
lies.. .and indicate how many of each type of lie you told, gave many examples of
the different reasons men and women lie. One male respondent, for example, said, I
told her that the new dress she bought looked great because if I had told her that it
made her look fat, it would have hurt her feelings. Compared with a female
respondent who wrote I told a lie about who I had slept with before we started
dating. I didnt want him to know that it was one of his friends.
The importance of recognizing that men and women will tell the same type of
lie for different reasons relates to the motives or reasons behind those type of lies.
For instance, if I am going to do something that I know my romantic partner does not
like, then in order for me to reduce her uncertainty about my motives within the
relationship, I will lie to protect them. On the other hand, if she understands my
insecurities about sexual intercourse, she might lie to prevent them from manifesting
in our relationship. Although Bergers Uncertainty Reduction Theory provides
several strategies people utilize to uncover deception in relationships, McComack and
Levines, and Burgoon et al.s discovery of a truth bias will limit the others chances
at determining the true motive or reason for lying. However, as the McComack and
Levine (1990) study indicated, more than two-thirds of the subjects who reported
that their relationship had terminated since the time that the lie was discovered
reported that the discovery of the lie played a direct role to the end the relationship.
Nearly all of these breakups were reported as being unilateral, initiated by the
recipient of the lie (p.131). I believe this discovery provides great insight into the
motives or reasons why an individual would lie and attempt to keep that lie hidden for
as long as possible.
Recall that research question three asked, Are there sex differences in the
types of reasons given? Men and women gave the same five reasons for lying (i.e.
research question one) but there were differences in the percentage of men and
women who listed each type of reason. Additionally, men and women gave more
reasons of when and why they lied in their romantic relationship (see table 5).
Peterson (1996) most closely links the results of research question three to the study.
The results of his investigation determined that respondents reported using white lies
more often than any of the other strategies (i.e. blatant lying, omissions, distortions,
and half-truths). Recall that DePaulo and Kashy claimed a little bit of light lying
serves certain privacy needs. Petersons results, as well as the results of my study,
lend support to DePaulo and Kashys claim. Male and female respondents more
readily labeled their lies as white lies or unharmful lies, when explaining
situations where his/her romantic partner did not need to know the specifics. For
example, in table five, 21% of the female respondents indicated they told a He relating
to sexual intercourse. Many of them described this type of lie as a white lie
because they felt it was private information that does not need to be shared with their
romantic partner. The importance of this discovery is that there may be certain issues
that will cause a person to lie in every situation no matter the degree of intimacy of
the relationship. The motive or reason for lying might serve important privacy needs
that are present throughout every stage of romantic relationships.
Though no research question was posed about the number of lies told by men
and women in romantic relationships, some descriptive data was analyzed. The
results of the z-test indicated that there was no significant proportional difference in
the number lies men told compared with the number of Hes that women told in
romantic relationships. The results of this data are linked to the study by DePaulo
and Kashy that investigated lying in close relationships, and McComack and Levines
examination of the relational outcomes of discovered deception. DePaulo and Kashy
claim that participants told fewer lies per social interaction to the people to whom
they felt closer (p.75). My investigation indicated similar results in table 6 where
26% of the men and 13% of the women claim they never told a lie in their romantic
relationship. However, the results of this study indicated that women reported telling
more lies than men in romantic relationships (see table 6). The consequences of this
discovery are that women possibly feel less guilty about the lies they teU and
therefore are more willing to truthfully report the number of lies they tell. Another
reason for the difference in percentages might be related to the types of Hes women
are likely to tell compared with the type of lies men are more likely to tell (e.g. other-
oriented, compared to self-centered). The importance of this discovery might be
related to the findings of DePaulo and Kashy, and Peterson who claim that
respondents felt more distress over the lies they tell to close partners than with casual
partners. If women tell, on the average, more other-oriented lies then perhaps those
lies are easier to confess. Self-centered lies that have more detrimental consequences
on the relationship are harder to confess, even in anonymity. The average number of
lies told by women was no doubt inflated somewhat by two female participants. One
of those women told more than 40 lies, and the other more than 60.
The descriptive data results from the t-test indicated there was significance in
the average number of females and males who caught their partner in a lie. Perhaps
women and men are better able to detect a he that his/her partner tells despite the
theory that a certain truth bias occurs when romantic partners lie. If women are
better able to detect a lie that their male romantic partner tells, this condition might be
related to the severity of the lie that men might tell compared with the type of lies
women report telling. For example, if men tell more self-centered lies, these types of
lies might be easier to uncover using the strategies described by Berger and
Calabreses Uncertainty Reduction Theory (1975). Whereas, other-oriented type lies
are possibly more difficult to uncover no matter what strategy is employed.
Additionally, the interactive strategy described by URT might be the hardest and the
last strategy used to uncover deception and therefore might lead to more inaccuracy
in detecting and discovering whether a romantic partner is lying.
Limitations of this Research
As with any empirical investigation, there were certain limitations inherent
in this study. In this section I will discuss five limitations of this research, although
there may have been more. The first limitation of this study relates to the design of
the survey. Question number six in the survey asked respondents if they were
currently in, or within the last six months have they been in a romantic relationship?
Some participants, who were excluded from the study by answering this question
with a no, might have provided more examples of their reasons for lying. Perhaps
this group could have provided more insight into the phenomenon of relationship
deception because of the length of their relationship combined with any possible
deception usage. Question number 16 of the survey asked respondents to provide
labels for the types of lies they told. Within the question, I provided an example of a
label (e.g. the label a white lie means...), which might have limited the respondent
from providing their own unique label to their deceptive behavior.
The second limitation of this study relates to the decision rule applied by the
primary researcher. The rule involved reading three quarters of the surveys, and then
applying the results to all of the survey responses. The use of this method of
categorizing possibly led to the unintentional exclusion of reasons given by men and
women for lying in their romantic relationship. Additionally, this rule allows for the
opinions and beliefs that the primary researcher holds about deception in romantic
relationships to motivate categorical decisions.
The third limitation of this research relates to the retrospective accounts given
by the individual respondents. Recall that respondents were asked to give
information about a past relationship, no longer than six months ago. The accounts
that each respondent within this category will be subjected to their own biased
opinion of what happened in their romantic relationship. Some of these participants
have had more time to reflect on the deception used in their past relationship, which
might have caused them to exaggerate the facts of the situations and the possible
reasons for the use of deception by them or their partner.
The fourth limitation of this investigation relates to the total number of
participants included in the study. Each z-test for proportional difference indicated
there was no significance. The test is approximate and assumes that the number of
observations in the two samples are sufficiently large to justify the normal
approximation to the binomial (Smith, 1988). Most of the samples that were
analyzed were quite small, which contributed to the findings of no significance.
Since telling a lie to your romantic partner is not socially desirable, the fifth
limitation relates to the social desirability bias theory (Edwards, 1957), which means
that respondents are hesitant to report on behavior that is deemed socially
undesirable. Perhaps, the general topic of this thesis caused some hesitation on the
part of some respondents.
Directions for Future Research
The findings of this study exposed a few details about the reasons why men
and women lie in romantic relationships, yet the lack of research investigating the
reasons why men and women lie in romantic relationships suggests that there might
be several areas for future investigation. One area that might be interesting to
investigate would be the length of the relationship. Perhaps future research could
ascertain the types of lies that are inherent in the early stages of romantic relationship
forming. This area of research might provide insight into the possible link between
uncertainty reduction strategies used in early relationship development and the types
of lies told to thwart those strategic attempts. Another area for future research might
answer the question what motives do men give for lying compared with the motives
for women? The findings of this research might shed more fight on the unconscious
motives behind the lies men and women tell in romantic relationships. Another area
that relationship researchers might want to explore is in the area of discovered
deception. When a fie is uncovered there are certain relationship consequences that
must be considered. The first is whether the relationship must terminate and the
second is how might this discovered deception lead to the renegotiation of the
relationship. Perhaps if researchers discovered the outcomes related to the types of
lies that were uncovered, this investigation could provide more insight into the types
of lies that cause termination opposed to renegotiation.
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Hello, my name is Bret Anderson and I want to thank you for volunteering to
answer these survey questions. The purpose of this research is to understand the
reasons why men and women lie in their romantic relationships.
You qualify for this study if you are currently in, or have within the last six
months, been in a heterosexual romantic relationship and either you or your partner
have told a lie.
There are questions in this survey that use Liekert scale items. An example of
how to answer these types of questions follows:
How frequently do you tell lies in your romantic relationship? Place a check
mark on the appropriate place.
Never Sometimes Frequently
You should not fill out this survey unless you have been currently dating
for three months. For a past relationship you must have dated for at least three
consecutive months and that relationship must have taken place within the last
Please circle or indicate the correct answer to the following questions:
1. Are you Male/Female?
2. Please give your age.
3. Please circle the category that most closely approximates your racial category:
Caucasian, Black, Hispanic not of Caucasian origin, Hispanic of Caucasian origin,
Asian, Native American, Other.
4. Please circle the category that indicates your sexual orientation: Heterosexual,
bisexual, gay, lesbian, other.
5. Please indicate your year in school; Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior,
6. Are you currently in, or within the last six months have you been in a romantic
relationship, yes/no? if you answered no to this question you have completed
the survey and should stop here. Thanks for your participation. However, if you
answered yes to this question please continue.
7. If you are currently in a romantic relationship, how long have you been in it?
Please indicate the approximate number of years and months.
8. If you are reporting on a romantic relationship that no longer exists, please
indicate how long you and your romantic partner dated and when the relationship
ended. Please indicate the approximate number of years and months.
9. Please list in order of importance to you the most important characteristics of a
trusting romantic relationship. Please number the characteristics (e.g. 1,2,3) in
order of importance.
For the purpose of this survey lying will be defined as the deliberate falsification
or omission of information by a communicator, with the intent to mislead the
If you have never told a lie in your romantic relationship please skip items: 10,11,
13,15,16, and 17 only answer questions: 12, 14, and 18.
10. How frequently do you he or have you bed in your romantic relationship? Place a
check mark on the appropriate place.
Never Sometimes Frequently
11. Approximately how many times do you lie to your romantic partner in a typical
month? If you are reporting on a romantic relationship that has already ended,
how many times did you lie in a typical month?
12. How frequently do you think your partner lies in your romantic relationship?
Place a check mark in the appropriate place. If you are reporting on a romantic
relationship that has already ended, how frequently do you think your partner lied
in a typical month?
Never Sometimes Frequently
13. Please list the reasons why you lie or have lied in your romantic relationship.
Rank order your responses in order, with 1 being the first of the best reason for
lying and continue listing until youve completed your reasons. Please number
your replies (e.g. 1,2, 3). Please use the space available.
14. How many times in a typical month do you or did you catch your romantic
partner in the act lying? Please give me a number (e.g. 4).
15. Please indicate the approximate number of lies you told in your relationship
within the last three months? Again, if reporting on a past relationship please
indicate the approximate number of lies you told within the last three months of
that romantic relationship.
16. Please explain the type of lie you told. In item 15 you gave the numbers of lies
you told in the last three months. Now please categorize those lies, for example,
some may be innocent lies to protect someone, some may be innocent lies to
protect yourself, others may be huge lies to protect yourself or for personal gain.
Please invent your own label for each type of lie and briefly explain what the
label means (e.g. the label a white lie means...). Now indicate how many of
each of the lies mentioned in item 15 fall under each label (e.g. if you told 15 lies
in the last three months maybe five fell under the white lie label).
17. Please describe 3 instances when and why you told a lie to your romantic partner.
Please use the space available. If you have not lied three times, please describe
the last once or twice if applicable.
18. Describe one important instance when and why your partner told a lie to you. If
your partner has not lied to you please indicate.