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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997 Jun;72(6):1429-39.

The ability to detect deceit generalizes across different types of high-stake lies.

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School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick 08901-1071, USA.


The authors investigated whether accuracy in identifying deception from demeanor in high-stake lies is specific to those lies or generalizes to other high-stake lies. In Experiment 1, 48 observers judged whether 2 different groups of men were telling lies about a mock theft (crime scenario) or about their opinion (opinion scenario). The authors found that observers' accuracy in judging deception in the crime scenario was positively correlated with their accuracy in judging deception in the opinion scenario. Experiment 2 replicated the results of Experiment 1, as well as P. Ekman and M. O'Sullivan's (1991) finding of a positive correlation between the ability to detect deceit and the ability to identify micromomentary facial expressions of emotion. These results show that the ability to detect high-stake lies generalizes across high-stake situations and is most likely due to the presence of emotional clues that betray deception in high-stake lies.

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