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Good wingman will lie to save friend's social image

Washington, Wed, 18 Jan 2012 ANI

Washington, Jan 18 (ANI): A good wingman will lie to help protect a friend's reputation or save his face in a social situation, a new study has revealed.


It could be called the wingman theory or the Barney Stinson principle (after the character played by Neil Patrick Harris on hit TV show How I Met Your Mother),where he spends much of his time trying to find his single friend a mate.


Along with colleagues from the University of Calgary and UBC, Jennifer Argo, an Alberta School of Business professor, explored the circumstances under which people would be willing to tell a lie to manage another person's social image.


The study found that, like Barney, the wingman is primed to step in with strategic identity support.


"This is an instance when you don't have the opportunity to make yourself look good, so somebody else does it for you," said Argo.


"But you're better off to hang out with your friends (in these situations) because your friends will look out for you."


Argo studied the likelihood of people helping out a friend who - to his chagrin - paid more for a car than did another person for the same vehicle.


Regardless of the size of the price discrepancy, she said, friends are willing to come to the rescue. She noted that in the case of a large discrepancy, even strangers may be willing to help a person save face as a random act of kindness.


"People put themselves in the shoes of the other person and say 'I would want someone to lie on my behalf so I wouldn't look bad,'" she said.


Argo insisted that the key here is for the person needing help to be physically present during the conversation between the friend and the third party.


Otherwise, she said that the only time they might be willing to fib on behalf of the absent friend is in the case of a large price discrepancy.


"It comes down to what kind of relationship you have with the person in need. I think it is truly defined by the level of your friendship," Argo said.


"If it's the best friend, I think most people would lie, even at the risk of possibly being found out."


"Based on the findings, it would seem reasonable to expect that people who understand their friends should be willing to step in as a wingman in a number of different contexts if their friends are in need," Argo added. (ANI)


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