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Conscious Cogn. 2018 Nov;66:65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.10.006. Epub 2018 Nov 5.

Eye contact reduces lying.

Author information

1
Human Information Processing Laboratory, Faculty of Social Sciences/Psychology, Tampere University, Tampere FI-33014, Finland.
2
Human Information Processing Laboratory, Faculty of Social Sciences/Psychology, Tampere University, Tampere FI-33014, Finland. Electronic address: jari.hietanen@uta.fi.

Abstract

The perception of watching eyes has been found to reduce dishonest behavior. This effect, however, has only been shown in situations where it can be explained by increased adherence to rules and norms, and thus a watching-eyes effect on dishonesty per se has not been demonstrated. Moreover, the effect has been investigated only with images of watching eyes, not in an interactive situation with a live person, which may arguably have different effects on behavior. In the present study, the effect of watching eyes on dishonesty was investigated with an interactive computer game of lying. Participants played the game against a confederate, whom they believed to be another participant. On each trial, they were briefly presented with a view of the confederate, after which they chose whether to lie in the game. The confederate alternated between the use of direct and downward gaze. The results showed that another individual's direct gaze reduced lying in the game. The findings have implications for both everyday and professional situations, such as clinical conversations and police interrogations.

KEYWORDS:

Deception; Direct gaze; Dishonesty; Eye contact; Honesty; Lying; Self-awareness; Watching eyes

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