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A Goal-Activation Framework of True and False Intentions

Journal article
Authors Erik Mac Giolla
Pär-Anders Granhag
Karl Ask
Published in Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume 31
Issue 6
Pages 678-684
ISSN 0888-4080
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 678-684
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


We propose a novel cognitive framework to distinguish between statements of true and false intent based on research on goal-directed behaviour. A true intention comes with a commitment to carry out the stated intention. This commitment activates the behavioural goal of a true intention. In contrast, a false intention does not come with a commitment to carry out the stated intention. Hence, the behavioural goal of a stated false intention should be inactive. Active goals have profound and predictable influences on human behaviour. For instance, active goals influence planning, future thought and evaluations. Such influences are functional—they aid in goal attainment. Insofar as true intentions activate goals, but false intentions do not, the expected influences of active goals should be weaker or non-existent for those stating a false intention. The framework parsimoniously accounts for previous intention-focused deception studies while generating new directions for future research.Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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