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Task-related spontaneous thought: A novel direction in the study of true and false intentions

Journal article
Authors Erik Mac Giolla
Pär-Anders Granhag
Karl Ask
Published in Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 93-103
ISSN 2211-3681
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 93-103
Language en
Keywords deception, true and false intentions, dpontaneous thought
Subject categories Psychology


The topic of true and false intentions remains an understudied area of deception research. We examined a novel approach to this topic based on the finding that future tasks generate task-related spontaneous thought. We argued that those with a true intention would experience task-related spontaneous thought to a greater extent than those with a false intention, since only true intentions refer to genuine future tasks. In three experiments participants were either given a future task or told to lie about their intention to perform the task. As predicted, truth tellers reported experiencing task-related spontaneous thought to a greater degree than liars (Experiment 1 and 2). However, these differences in subjective reports did not result in diagnostic cues to deceit during an interview (Experiment 2 and 3). The results nonetheless highlight how social-cognitive research can provide important insights and future research directions on the topic of true and false intentions.

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