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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1985 May;48(5):1191-203.

Telling ingratiating lies: effects of target sex and target attractiveness on verbal and nonverbal deceptive success.


Male and female "senders" described their opinions on four controversial issues to target persons. Each sender expressed sincere agreement with the target on one of the issues and sincere disagreement on another (truthful messages), and also pretended to agree with the partner on one of the issues (an ingratiating lie) and pretended to disagree on another (a noningratiating lie). Groups of judges then rated the sincerity of each message on the basis of information available from one of four different channels: verbal (words only, in transcript form), audio (audiotape only), visual (videotape with no sound), and audiovisual (videotape with sound). Results showed that (a) lies told by women were more readily detected than lies told by men, (b) lies told to opposite-sex targets were more easily detected than lies to same-sex targets, and (c) ingratiating lies were more successfully detected than were noningratiating lies, particularly when told to attractive targets. Furthermore, when senders talked to opposite-sex (relative to same-sex) targets, their lies were most easily detected from the three channels that included nonverbal cues. For ingratiating (relative to noningratiating) lies, detectability was greatest for the channels that included visual nonverbal cues. Senders addressing attractive targets were perceived as less sincere than senders addressing unattractive targets, both when lying and when telling the truth, and this difference in the degree of sincerity conveyed was especially pronounced in the channels that included nonverbal cues. Results are discussed in terms of the effects of motivation on verbal and nonverbal communicative success.

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