Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 185–201 | Cite as

Stretching the Truth: Elastic Justification and Motivated Communication of Uncertain Information

Article

Abstract

Although both cognitive and motivational factors can influence the communication of uncertain information, most of the work investigating the communication of uncertainty has focused on cognitive factors. In this article, we demonstrate that motivational factors influence the communication of private, uncertain information and we describe the relationship between elasticity (i.e. uncertainty and vagueness) and motivated communication. We report results from four experiments that demonstrate that motivated communication is not purely opportunistic. The values people report are constrained by the elasticity of private information even when the costs and benefits of misrepresenting information are held constant. Perceptions of justifiability mediate the relationship between elasticity and motivated communication, and we explain our results in terms of the self-justification process.

communicating uncertainty motivated communication deception elastic-justification 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Baron, R. M. and D. A. Kenny. (1986). “The Moderator-Mediator Distinction in Social Psychological Research: Conceptual, Strategic, and Statistical Considerations,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51, 1173-1182.Google Scholar
  2. Bok, S. (1978). Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  3. Budescu, D. V. and T. S. Wallsten. (1985). “Consistency in Interpretation of Probabilistic Phrases,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 36, 391-405.Google Scholar
  4. Budescu, D. V., S. Weinberg, and T. S. Wallsten. (1988). “Decisions Based on Numerically and Verbally Expressed Uncertainties,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 14, 281-294.Google Scholar
  5. Camerer, C. and M. Weber. (1992). “Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 5, 325-370.Google Scholar
  6. Einhorn, H. and R. Hogarth. (1986). “Decision Making under Ambiguity,” Journal of Business 59, S225-S250.Google Scholar
  7. Ellsberg, D. (1961). “Risk, Ambiguity, and the Savage Axioms,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 75, 643-669.Google Scholar
  8. Fox, C. and J. Irwin. (1998). “The Role of Context in the Communication of Uncertain Beliefs,” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 20, 57-70.Google Scholar
  9. Fischhoff, B. and W. Bruine de Bruin. (1999). “Fifty-Fifty=50%?” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 12, 149-163.Google Scholar
  10. Gaba, A. and W. K. Viscusi. (1998). “Differences in Subjective Risk Thresholds: Worker Groups as an Example,” Management Science 44, 801-811.Google Scholar
  11. Grover, S. L. (1993). “Lying, Deceit, and Subterfuge: A Model of Dishonesty in the Workplace,” Organizational Science 4, 478-495.Google Scholar
  12. Ho, J., L. Keller, and P. Keltyka. (2001). “Manager's Variance Investigation Decisions: An Experimental Examination of Probablistic and Outcome Ambiguity,” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 14, 257-278.Google Scholar
  13. Ho, J., L. Keller, and P. Keltyka. (2002). “Effects of Outcome and Probablistic Ambiguity on Managerial Choices,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 24, 47-74.Google Scholar
  14. Hogarth, R. and H. Kunreuther. (1985). “Ambiguity and Insurance Decisions,” American Economic Review 75, 386-390.Google Scholar
  15. Hogarth, R. and H. Kunreuther. (1989). “Risk, Ambiguity, and Insurance,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 2, 5-35.Google Scholar
  16. Hogarth, R. and H. Kunreuther. (1995). “Decision Making under Ignorance: Arguing with Yourself,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 10, 15-36.Google Scholar
  17. Hsee, C. K. (1995). “Elastic Justification: How Tempting but Task-Irrelevant Factors Influence Decisions,” Organizational Behavioral and Human Decision Process 62, 330-337.Google Scholar
  18. Hsee, C. K. (1996). “Elastic Justification: How Unjustifiable Factors Influence Judgments,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 66, 122-129.Google Scholar
  19. Jones, T. (1991). “Ethical Decision Making by Individuals in Organizations: An Issue-Contingent Model,” Academy of Management Review 16, 366-395.Google Scholar
  20. Kahn, B. and R. Sarin. (1988). “Modeling Ambiguity in Decisions under Uncertainty,” Journal of Consumer Research 15, 265-272.Google Scholar
  21. Kahneman, D. and A. Tversky. (1979). “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,” Econometrica 47, 263-291.Google Scholar
  22. Kahneman, D. and A. Tversky. (2000). Choice, Values, and Frames. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kunreuther, H., R. Hogarth, and J. Meszaros. (1993). “Insurer Ambiguity and Market Failure,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 7, 71-87.Google Scholar
  24. Kunda, Z. (1991). “The Case for Motivated Reasoning,” Psychological Bulletin 108, 480-498.Google Scholar
  25. Lewicki, R. J. (1983). “Lying and Deception: A Behavioral Model.” In M. H. Bazerman and R. J. Lewicki (eds.), Negotiating in Organizations. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. von Neumann, J. and O. Morgenstern. (1947). Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, 2nd ed., Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. O'Connor, K. and P. Carnevale. (1997). “A Nasty but Effective Negotiation Strategy: Misrepresentation of a Common-Value Issue,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 23, 504-515.Google Scholar
  28. Payne, J., J. Bettman, and E. Johnson. (1992). “Behavioral Decision Research: A Constructive Processing Perspective,” Annual Review of Psychology 43, 87-131.Google Scholar
  29. Poulton, E. C. (1994). Behavioral Decision Theory: A New Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Savage, L. (1954). The Foundations of Statistics. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Schweitzer, M. and R. Croson. (1999). “Curtailing Deception: The Impact of Direct Questions on Lies and Omissions,” International Journal of Conflict Management 10, 225-248.Google Scholar
  32. Scott, E. D. and K. A. Jehn. (1999). “About Face: A Model of Dishonesty and Organizational Image.” Working paper Management Department, Wharton School.Google Scholar
  33. Slovic, P. (1992). “Public Perceptions of Risk,” Risk Management 39, 54-58.Google Scholar
  34. Slovic, P., B. Fischhoff, and S. Lichtenstein. (1978). “Accident Probabilities and Seat Belt Usage: A Psychological Perspective,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 10, 281-285.Google Scholar
  35. Slovic, P. and J. Monahan. (1995). “Probability, Danger, and Coercion: A Study of Risk Perception and Decision Making in Mental Health Law,” Law and Human Behavior 19, 49-65.Google Scholar
  36. Stone, E., F. Yates, and A. Parker. (1994). “Risk Communication: Absolute versus Relative Expressions of Low-Probability Risks,” Organizational Behavioral and Human Decision Process 60, 387-408.Google Scholar
  37. Tenbrunsel, A. (1998). “Misrepresentation and Expectation of Misrepresentation in an Ethical Dilemma: The Role of Incentives and Temptation,” Academy of Management Journal 41, 330-339.Google Scholar
  38. Thaler, R. (1999). “Mental Accounting Matters,” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 12, 183-206.Google Scholar
  39. Trevino, L. (1986). “Ethical Decision Making in Organizations: A Person-Situation Interactionist Model,” Academy of Management Review 11, 601-617.Google Scholar
  40. Trevino, L. and S. Youngblood. (1990). “A Bad Apples in Bad Barrels: A Causal Analysis of Ethical Decision-Making Behavior,” Journal of Applied Psychology 75, 378-385.Google Scholar
  41. Tversky, A. and D. Kahneman. (1991). “Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 106, 1039-1061.Google Scholar
  42. Viscusi, W. K. (1997). “Alarmist Decision with Divergent Risk Information,” The Economic Journal 107, 1657-1670.Google Scholar
  43. Wallsten, T. S., D. V. Budescu, and R. Zwick. (1993). “Comparing the Calibration and Coherence of Numerical and Verbal Probability Judgments,” Management Science 39, 176-190.Google Scholar
  44. Wallsten, T. S., D. V. Budescu, R. Zwick, and S. M. Kemp. (1993). “Preferences and Reasons for Communicating Probabilistic Information in Verbal or Numerical Terms,” Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 31, 135-138.Google Scholar
  45. Weber, E. U. and C. Hsee. (1998). “Cross-Cultural Differences in Risk Perception, but Cross-Cultural Similarities in Attitudes toward Perceived Risk,” Management Science 44, 1205-1217.Google Scholar
  46. Weber, E. U. and R. A. Milliman. (1997). “Perceived Risk Attitudes: Relating Risk Perception to Risky Choice,” Management Science 43, 123-144.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.566 Jm HH, OPIM, Wharton School, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of BusinessUniversity of ChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations