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Do All Types of Compassion Increase Prosocial Lying?

Authors Fang X, Chen L, Wang J, Zhang Q, Mo L

Received 12 November 2019

Accepted for publication 22 April 2020

Published 18 May 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 437—451


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Xu Fang,1– 4 Lixiang Chen,1– 4 Jie Wang,1– 4 Qun Zhang,1– 4 Lei Mo1– 4

1School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China; 2Key Laboratory of Brain, Cognition and Education Sciences (South China Normal University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou 510631, China; 3Center for Studies of Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China; 4 Guangdong Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China

Correspondence: Lei Mo
School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 20-8521 7306

Background: Previous studies have shown that compassion increases prosocial lying. However, in the present study, we proposed that compassion toward individuals who are frustrated in striving for minimal living conditions (named here as compassion for other’s survival in suffering, abbreviated as COSS) increases prosocial lying, while compassion toward individuals frustrated in seeking development conditions (named here as compassion for other’s development in suffering, abbreviated as CODS) has little effect on prosocial lying.
Methods: In Studies 1 and 2, we asked participants to evaluate the same text twice before and after experimentally experiencing emotion to test the above hypotheses. In Study 3, we created a situation with a strong moral conflict between prosociality and truth-telling to investigate the potential psychological mechanisms.
Results: In Study 1, we show that COSS and CODS both increased prosocial lying. Notably, COSS effect on prosocial lying was significantly higher than CODS effect on prosocial lying. These findings were augmented by results from Study 2, which showed that individuals with low-trait compassion in COSS condition engaged in more prosocial lying than those with high trait compassion in CODS condition. In Study 3, we report that COSS increased prosocial lying significantly, while CODS did not.
Conclusion: COSS and CODS are two different types of compassion as shown in Studies 1 and 2; they have different potential psychological mechanisms on increasing prosocial lying (Study 3a and 3b). This study provides additional information on the theory of compassion, which is important in exploring compassion effects.

Keywords: compassion, compassion types, prosocial lying, illusion

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