Individual differences in (dis)honesty are represented in the brain's functional connectivity at rest

Sebastian P.H. Speer*, Ale Smidts, Maarten A.S. Boksem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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Measurement of the determinants of socially undesirable behaviors, such as dishonesty, are complicated and obscured by social desirability biases. To circumvent these biases, we used connectome-based predictive modeling (CPM) on resting state functional connectivity patterns in combination with a novel task which inconspicuously measures voluntary cheating to gain access to the neurocognitive determinants of (dis)honesty. Specifically, we investigated whether task-independent neural patterns within the brain at rest could be used to predict a propensity for (dis)honest behavior. Our analyses revealed that functional connectivity, especially between brain networks linked to self-referential thinking (vmPFC, temporal poles, and PCC) and reward processing (caudate nucleus), reliably correlates, in an independent sample, with participants’ propensity to cheat. Participants who cheated the most also scored highest on several self-report measures of impulsivity which underscores the generalizability of our results. Notably, when comparing neural and self-report measures, the neural measures were found to be more important in predicting cheating propensity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118761
Early online date30 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

he authors would like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments, and Hang-Yee Chan, Christin Scholz and Nynke van der Laan for their assistance in data collection. We also gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


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