Simon, Isaac; Williams, Todd; Wolfe, Michael; and Hessler, John, "I Can’t Remember: The Effects of Machiavellianism, Mental Effort and Lying on Memory" (2015). Student Summer Scholars. 137.
Past research has demonstrated that lying about an event interferes with one’s later recall of that event (Pickel, 2004; Zaragoza, Belli, & Payment, 2007). This study examined the extent that individual differences in Machiavellianism (Christie & Geis, 1970) moderated the effect of lying on event recollection. In a multi-session study, participants were asked to either truthfully recount or lie about the events depicted in a video clip that they had just viewed. One week later, participants verbally recalled the actual events of the clip. Participants did not differ in the amounts of correct inferences and correct details recalled from the clip. However, low levels of Machiavellianism were associated with less memory distortion of the inferable information after lying whereas higher levels of Machiavellianism was related to increased reporting of incorrect inferences after lying. These results also found that high Machiavellian individuals who lied are better able to differentiate between correct and incorrect details during recall than low Machiavellian individuals.