Playing the Lying Game: Detecting and Dealing with Lies and Liars, from Occasional Fibbers to Frequent Fabricators

By Gini Graham Scott | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
The Strategy of Deceiving
and Perceiving

Why is lying so common? Are people who lie simply good at deceiving? Or are people who are lied to poor at perceiving? And what can be done to deal with lying? How can people recognize when someone is lying? How do people learn how and when to use a lie when it might seem justified, such as to keep someone from knowing information that may be harmful to him?

And how can you better tell when someone is lying to you? As you read the following discussion, you might keep in mind the basic difference in telling when those least likely to lie (the models of absolute integrity and the straight shooters) and those more likely to lie (the pragmatic fibbers, Pinocchios, and frequent liars). Generally, the former will be more likely to give away signs of lying, because they lie less and feel more anxious or guilty about telling a lie. By contrast, the latter will be less likely to give away the lie, because they are more practiced in telling lies more frequently and they feel relatively little or no guilt or anxiety in telling the lie itself — they are more concerned about the potential for being caught. In short, the former are more likely to be revealers, the latter concealers when it comes to finding clues and cues to detect the lie.


THE SUCCESS OF DECEPTION

Lying is common because, in general, the ability to deceive is better than the ability to perceive. In other words, lying works because people more often will be able to get away with it than people will be able to recognize the lie.

This development is linked to the evolution of lying as a survival and defense mechanism discussed earlier. To briefly recap here, researchers have found that the ability to deceive can help an organism survive, so the genetic capability for deception has evolved through natural selection. As psychologist Charles

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