In both the psychological and philosophical literature, there is little time devoted to a robust understanding of the character trait of honesty. The trait of honesty is often used as an example of a beneficial or good character trait, yet the gap in the literature raises a vexing question: what is honesty? This poster reports ongoing work aimed at identifying folk theories of honesty. We argue that an understanding of these theories can illuminate a principled understanding of this character trait in both psychology and philosophy.
Currently, we are using qualitative surveys to develop an operational definition of honesty. This will allow us to develop a quantitative measure in order to assess the strength of the trait in particular individuals. The quantitative data will be used to classify and categorize the trait of honesty within the Five Factor Model of personality and to generalize the construct of virtuous traits within virtue ethics in philosophy. If honesty is shown to be distinct from existing categories of traits in psychology or if its characteristics are shown to be incompatible with situationist ethics in philosophy, then we will formulate a new research program in order to better understand the relationship between the trait of honesty and each theory. This poster sketches some approaches to these possible outcomes that we find plausible.
Talley, Jared; Stevens, Lauren; Lindgren, Drew; Couture, Sara; Lynch, Amanda; Brasil, Kyle; Adams, Trevor; and Hayes, Kim, "The Truth About Honesty: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Trait of Honesty" (2014). College of Arts and Sciences Presentations. Paper 45.