Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1060-1



Merriam-Webster defines deceitfulness as “not honest: making or trying to make someone believe something that is not true.”


Deceitfulness can be seen as a tendency to be dishonest in one’s interactions with others. Telling lies begins at an early age and is quite common in older children and adults. Many of the lies that people tell can be categorized as “white lies,” that is, lies which are intended to spare people’s feelings (“your new haircut is so flattering”) or to facilitate social interactions (“I’d love to hear about your child’s science project”). Deceitfulness, however, implies a habitual tendency to use lying and/or other forms of deception for self-serving reasons, including personal gain or enjoyment.

Developmental Trajectory

Talwar and Lee (2008) found that deception begins early and requires certain cognitive abilities. In these authors’ research, young children were induced to peek at a toy, thus disobeying an...


Psychopathic Trait Personal Gain Reciprocal Altruism Dark Triad Reputational Cost 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lakehead UniversityOrilliaCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Virgil Zeigler-Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityOaklandUSA