How can we make people act more honestly?

Principal Investigator
Salvatore Maria Aglioti
Host institution
Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
IIT, Rome, Italy

Embodied cognition theories postulate that even seemingly abstract processes (like grammar) may be biased by body-related signals. In this framework, Bodily Self-Consciousness, i.e. the fundamental experience of owning a body (ownership) and being the author of an action (agency), may influence people’s dishonest tendencies, by changing their perception of themselves during interactions with both virtual avatars and with real people.

The eHONESTY project will assess dishonesty using interactive scenarios in which people are tempted to lie to obtain a monetary payoff at the cost of others. Real life, virtual reality and web-based interactions will be tested. Behavioural (e.g., subjective reports, kinematics), autonomic (e.g., heartbeat, thermal imaging) and brain (e.g., EEG, TMS, lesion analyses) measures of dishonesty will be recorded in healthy and clinical populations. We aim to manipulate bodily self-consciousness by changing an avatar used by an individual to communicate online or giving them the feeling of being no longer just an individual but part of a wider group. Such manipulations may lead people to change how they respond in a given situation. The expected results may inspire new strategies for combating dishonesty and other unethical behavior and foster a person-based approach that will complement existing cross-cultural, large-scale, societal investigations.


Start: 1 November 2018 End: 31 October 2023

Research Team

Salvatore Maria Aglioti

Principal Investigator

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Maria Serena Panasiti

Senior Fellow

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Giusi Porciello

Senior Fellow

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Giorgia Ponsi

Senior Fellow

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Martina Fusaro

Senior Fellow

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Ilaria Minio Paluello

Senior Fellow

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Riccardo Villa

Senior Fellow

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Irene Parisi

PhD Student

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Luca Provenzano

PhD Student

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Marina Scattolin

PhD Student

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Alisha Vabba

PhD Student

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Alessandro Monti

PhD Student

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Lennie Dupont

PhD Student

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