Truth is its own reward: Completeness of information, the feeling of truth knowing, and victims’ closure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Victims of crime often want the truth about what happened. Yet, how exactly is truth valuable? Commonly, truth is thought to be instrumentally valuable by providing useful knowledge. Truth would be beneficial for victims because specific information may afford re-appraisals or greater understanding. The present research shows that truth may have inherent value independent from information content by providing truth knowing, a subjective sense of having the complete account, which facilitates closure. In Study 1 (n = 200) and Study 2 (n = 195), participants imagined themselves as victims of crime and were presented with one of two reports identical in content but designed to appear either complete or incomplete. As predicted, the complete report increased truth knowing and not understanding. Truth knowing was associated with greater closure, reduced affect, and greater forgiveness. In Study 3 (n = 157), real crime victims responded to one of two question sets making salient either the completeness or incompleteness of the information available about the crime. Salience of the completeness of information increased truth knowing, increased closure, reduced anger, and was associated with greater forgiveness. Findings suggest that truth knowing may facilitate the recovery of victims independently from instrumental value derived from content.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Keywords

  • closure
  • forgiveness
  • subjective experiences
  • truth
  • victim

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