Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

The Influence of Judge, Target, and Stimulus Characteristics on the Accuracy of Detecting Deceit

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

The Influence of Judge, Target, and Stimulus Characteristics on the Accuracy of Detecting Deceit

Article excerpt


Although detecting deception is generally difficult, it appears that some people are better at this task than others. However, the factors contributing to varying accuracy rates in deception detection are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to identify potential factors related to the ability to detect deceit, including characteristics of the credibility assessor (e.g., personality, handedness, cue use), characteristics of the target (attractiveness, gender), and the modality of the report (audiovisual versus audio-only). Participants (N = 310) judged the honesty of eight reports of emotionally laden events (four true reports and four motivated lies) presented in audio-visual or audio-only formats. Results indicated that detection accuracy was significantly higher when the judge was left-handed, the target was unattractive, and the target and judge were of opposite genders. Judges most frequently relied on cues related to the content of the report to decide credibility, but the use of such cues was associated with lower detection accuracy. In contrast, although facial cues were relied upon less often, they were positively associated with accuracy. Implications for the process of credibility assessment are discussed.


Bien qu'il soit le plus souvent difficile de detecter la tromperie, il apparait que certaines personnes sont meilleures a le faire que d'autres. Cependant, les facteurs contribuant a la variance du taux de precision dans la detection de la tromperie ne sont pas bien compris. La presence etude visait a identifier des facteurs possibles lies a la capacite de detecter la tromperie, y compris les caracteristiques de l'evaluateur de la credibilite (p. ex. la personnalite, la manualite, l'utilisation des indices), les caracteristiques de la cible (l'attractivite, le sexe) et la modalite du rapport (audiovisuel par opposition a audio uniquement). Les participants (N=310) ont jugs de l'honnetete de huit rapports d'evenements remplis d'emotivite (quatre rapports vrais et quatre rapports de mensonges motives) presentes en format audiovisuel et audio uniquement. Les resultats demontrent que la precision

dans la detection etait significativement plus elevee lorsque le juge etait gaucher, que la cible etait peu attrayante et que la cible et le juge etaient de sexe oppose. Les juges se fiaient le plus souvent a des indices lies au contenu du rapport pour decider de la credibilite, mail l'utilisation de tels indices etait associee a une precision de detection plus faible. En revanche, meme si on se fiait moins souvent aux indices faciaux, ils etaient associes positivement a la precision. Des suppositions quant au processus d'evaluation de la credibilite font l'objet d'une evaluation.

Deception is an important aspect of everyday human social interactions (e.g., DePaulo, Kashey, Kirkendol, Wyer, & Epstein, 1996). Although the consequences of deception are often trivial (as with "white lies"), they can be more serious in certain contexts, such as a police interrogation or in the courtroom (e.g., Porter & Yuille, 1996; Porter, Yuille, & Birt, 2001). Most people, including law enforcement professionals, experience considerable difficulty in accurately detecting deceit. In laboratory studies, most individuals perform around chance in detecting deception (see Vrij, 2000). In a classic study by Ekman and O'Sullivan (1991), customs officials, police officers, judges, FBI agents, forensic psychiatrists, and other groups were no better than chance at judging the honesty of videotaped speakers. Only the Secret Service performed significantly above what would be expected from guessing alone (64% correct). Similarly, Porter, Woodworth, and Birt (2000) found that Canadian federal parole officers performed significantly below chance at detecting deception prior to participating in a deception detection training workshop.

Despite the general impairment in identifying deceit, some individuals are considerably better at the task than others. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.