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Credibility in the Eye of the Beholder

November 14, 2009

Evolutionary Psychology easily takes the cake as the philosopher’s favored branch of modern Psychology.  For example, a recent study has shown that humans have a natural tendency to inculcate credibility though our comparatively greater capacity for remembering the source of information received than the recipients of information distributed.  The result is that humans naturally assess whether information comes from a reliable source and tend to over-share information on their own (e.g., “tell me if you’ve heard this one before”).  By the same token, individual tendencies to tell the truth are enhanced since we have a naturally diminished capacity to keep tabs on our own lies.  The article manages to put a negative spin on that last point, but lovers of truth should know better.

And that could get us into trouble, say the researchers. For instance, managers need to remember to whom they told certain information or delegated responsibilities in order to monitor progress. Even liars, or perhaps particularly liars, need to keep track of what they’ve told people so they don’t get caught telling incompatible stories.

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