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In strategic information exchanges (such as negotiations and job interviews), different question formulations communicate information about the question asker, and systematically influence the veracity of responses. We demonstrate this function of questions by contrasting Negative Assumption questions that presuppose a problem, Positive Assumption questions that presuppose the absence of a problem, and General questions that do not reference a problem. In Study 1, Negative Assumption questions promoted greater disclosure of undesirable work-related behaviors than Positive Assumption or General questions did. In Study 2, Negative Assumption questions increased disclosure of undesirable information in face-to-face job recruitment meetings, relative to Positive Assumption questions and General questions. Study 3 demonstrated that the relationship we identify between question type and the veracity of responses is driven by inferences of assertiveness and knowledgeability about the question asker. Finally, in Study 4, asking assertive questions with regard to uncommon behaviors led the question asker to be evaluated more negatively.


Minson, Julia, Eric M. VanEpps, Jeremy A. Yip, and Maurice E. Schweitzer. "Eliciting the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth: The Effect of Question Phrasing on Deception." Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 147 (July 2018 (Available online June 2018)): 76-93.