When intents to educate can misinform: Inadvertent paltering through violations of communicative norms

Derek Powell, Lin Bian, Ellen M. Markman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Paltering is a form of deception whereby true statements are used to mislead and is widely employed in negotiations, marketing, espionage, and ordinary communications where speakers hold ulterior motives. We argue that paltering is accomplished through strategic violations of communicative norms such as the Gricean cooperative principles of relevance, quantity, quality and manner. We further argue that, just as genuine paltering deceives by deliberately violating communicative norms, inadvertent violations of these norms may be just as misleading. In this work, we demonstrated that educational information presented prominently on the American Diabetes Association website violated the Gricean communicative principles and disrupted readers' performance on a test of diabetes knowledge. To establish the effects of these communicative violations, we revised the ADA's information to preserve the original content while better adhering to pragmatic principles. When these ADA explanations were judiciously revised to minimize pragmatic violations, they were transformed from misleading to educational.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0230360
JournalPloS one
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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