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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Jan;31(1):3-23.

Sex, lies, and strategic interference: the psychology of deception between the sexes.

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  • 1University of California, Communication Studies Program, 334 Kinsey Hall, 405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


The desires of one sex can lead to deceptive exploitation by the other sex. Strategic Interference Theory proposes that certain "negative" emotions evolved or have been co-opted by selection, in part, to defend against deception and reduce its negative consequences. In Study 1 (N = 217) Americans reported emotional distress in response to specific forms of deception. Study 2 (N = 200) replicated the results in a German sample. Study 3 (N = 479) assessed Americans' past experiences with deception and conducted additional hypothesis tests using a procedure to control for overall sex differences in upset. Each study supported the hypothesis that emotions track sex-linked forms of strategic interference. Three clusters of sex differences proved robust across studies-emotional upset about resource deception, commitment deception, and sexual deception. We discuss implications for theories of mating and emotion and directions for research based on models of antagonistic coevolution between the sexes.

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