07.05.2018 change 07.05.2018

Intelligent extraverts are more likely to deceive

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Extroverts with a high level of intelligence are most likely to lie. In the study of Polish researchers they most often chose a strategy, in which they used deception to achieve their goals. Introverts (regardless of the level of intelligence) and extroverts with lower IQ used this strategy less often.

Although everyone lies sometimes, certain personality combinations increase the tendency to speak untruth. For example, people who lie more often include antisocial, narcissistic persons (for their own benefit) or those with psychopathic personality (for no apparent reason).

But character traits not the only factor causing a person to lie more often than others do. Research shows that other important factors include intelligence and developed cognitive abilities, information processing that occurs in the nervous system, such as the ability to maintain focus or memory. Previous research shows that people with higher intelligence find it easier to lie on tests to get employment.

Scientists from several Polish centres joined forces to check the importance of character traits in combination with intelligence and executive functions of the brain for using deception.

The research was conducted by a team led by Dr. Justyna Sarzyńska from the Institute of Psychology PAS and Dr. Marcela Falkiewicz from the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology and the Max Planck Institute in cooperation with Prof. Edward Nęcka from the Institute of Psychology of the Jagiellonian University.

The researchers carried out three separate studies, the participants of which were asked to choose a strategy and decide whether they would prefer to use deception or to be honest. In total, over 150 people took part in the studies. In each of the studies, the researchers measured the character traits of the participants and examined their beliefs. The brain function of study participants was observed using magnetic resonance.

The tasks of the participants included a test similar to popular speed dating. Participants were tasked with winning over as many potential dating prospects as possible. Questions were asked in such a way that the participants knew the answer the other party expected. So they could easily manipulate their answers to please the other person. The subjects did not know the real purpose of the study and could decide whether they would lie or not.

The study showed that the link between IQ and deception was strong in extroverts. "Extroverts with high IQ most often chose a strategy, in which they used deception to achieve their goals. Introverts and extroverts with lower intelligence were less inclined to use deception" - comments Prof. Edward Nęcka from the Institute of Psychology of the Jagiellonian University. "The study showed that the level of extraversion alone had little connection with the tendency to lie. The key was the combination of extraversion and high intelligence" - he adds.

The researchers explain that using deception can be particularly attractive for extroverts, because it can bring them benefits in social life. However, high cognitive abilities are needed to achieve those benefits. These two elements determine the tendency of intelligent extroverts to lie.

The potential social life benefits of lying are not that attractive for introverts. In turn - as we read in the publication - less intelligent people did not benefit enough from lies in the past, so they do not resort to deception so often.

Research published in Plos One (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176591) was funded by the National Science Centre. Monika Riegel, Justyna Babula, Daniel S. Margulies, Anna Grabowska and Iwona Szatkowska were also involved in the research project.

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