Evolutionary psychology would point to a more fundamental factor, which sadly none of the studies you cite seem to have taken into account. As we’re a primate group species we’re hardwired to do practically anything in order to belong to a group, because for 95% of our evolutionary history that was the only way to survive — a solo human back on the African savanna or in the primordial forests of Eurasia would have had a life expectancy measured in days. So here’s the thing: we willingly embrace lies told to us by purported authority figures. The same lie, told by someone whose power in the group is trivial or non-existent, will be dismissed. When we embrace lies we’re doing so primarily because we have a hardwired need to fall into line behind supposed authority figures in order not to jeopardize our membership of whatever group we feel affiliated to.

A good experiment to demonstrate this would obviously be to have different levels of authority figure tell the same lie to different large groups of people (all of whom must feel that they and the authority figure belong to the same group, of course) and then measure the lie’s effect. Sadly, as so few psychologists are acquainted with evolutionary psychology, such important distinctions are often missing and thus render conclusions somewhat incomplete.

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