Honesty in interpersonal relationships

Date of Completion

January 1996


Psychology, Social|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Psychology, Clinical




The concept of honesty is poorly understood. It has been primarily examined as a stable personality trait or has been limited to first encounters within experimental settings. Although attempts have been made to connect past self-disclosure to perceived mental health, no one has attempted to correlate the satisfaction of interpersonal relationships with levels of honesty. In addition, although the literature described contextual differences in honest interaction, no one has looked at the differences in how people perceive personal, social, and work/professional relationships in terms of honesty.^ The purpose of this study was to investigate the level of honesty within certain types of interpersonal relationships, compare honesty of self versus honesty of others, and study the relationship between the level of honesty within given types of relationships and satisfaction with those relationships.^ To research these areas, the Honesty in Interpersonal Relationships Questionnaire was constructed using a revised version of a questionnaire developed by Wilbur (1991). To facilitate the development of the questionnaire, focus groups were conducted using the original questionnaire, and discussions were fostered regarding honesty as a variable and how individuals viewed honesty in interpersonal relationships. A pilot study of 138 subjects was conducted to examine the validity and reliability of the revised questionnaire. The final questionnaire was given to 284 graduate and undergraduate students, as study participants, at a large Northeastern university.^ The results indicated that there were significant differences in levels of honesty among the three relationship dimensions (personal, work/professional, and social). Significant differences were found in how people perceived honesty of self and honesty of others. There was also a significant interaction between relationship dimension and relationship focus with regard to levels of honesty. Relationship satisfaction was found to be strongly correlated with perceived levels of honesty. Specifically, perceived levels of honesty and relationship satisfaction were found to be correlated the strongest within personal relationships. ^