Indonesians Do Not Believe in Lying: New Results of Replicating Coleman and Kay’s Study

Ahmad Adha


For most people, a lie would be defined solely as a false statement. However, many philosophers argue that a statement does not need to be false to be considered a lie, what is important is that the speaker believes that the statement is false. In a prototype semantic analysis, there are three elements of a lie, namely factual falsity, belief, and intention (Coleman and Kay, 1981). As in the case of philosophers’ arguments, English, Spanish, Arabic and Hungarian speakers consider belief as the main element of a prototypical lie. By replicating Coleman and Kay’s study of Indonesian speakers, the present paper tries to answer the following research questions. (1) Does the Indonesian word bohong ‘lie’ consist of the Coleman & Kay’s prototype elements? (2) If it does, what is the order of the elements? (3) Do Indonesians interpret the situation in which a lie occurs similarly to speakers of other languages? And (4) how to interpret the results of this experiment from the philosophical perspective? The results reveal that not all elements suggested by Coleman and Kay (1981) are present in lying according to Indonesians and the factuality of the statement is more important to Indonesians than belief. Thus, Indonesians have a perception of a lie that is different from the definitions suggested by the philosophers. 


lying; pragmatics; philosophy; Indonesian

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Copyright (c) 2020 Ahmad Adha

Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097