Deception by device: are we more self-serving on laptops or cell phones?

Terri R. Kurtzberg, Charles E. Naquin, Mason Ameri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: As both workplace and personal interactions increasingly move into online discussions, the impact of various technological devices (such as cell phones and laptops) on behaviors and decisions must be better understood. This study aims to assess whether tasks done on cell phones or laptops prompt more deception for the sake of personal gain in decisions and negotiations, based on the associations held about each device. Design/methodology/approach: Four empirical studies plus a single-study meta-analysis explore the rates of self-serving deceptive behavior based on the type of device used in decision-making tasks (ultimatum-game bargaining and negotiations). Findings: Results show that using a laptop prompted more self-serving behavior than using a cell phone. Follow-up studies suggest that the dominant associations that people hold with each device – professional ones for the laptop and personal ones for cell phone – may help drive this effect. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is among the first to establish a link between technological device and behavioral outcomes in negotiations, even when the exact format of the information sent and received is identical (i.e. text-only format). The findings have implications for selecting devices for important negotiations and decisions, as some may promote more ethical behavior than others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-591
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Conflict Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Deception
  • Device
  • Ethics
  • Negotiations
  • Object associations
  • Ultimatum game


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