Appearing truthful generalizes across different deception situations

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2004 Mar;86(3):486-95. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.86.3.486.


The authors investigated whether the ability to appear truthful is specific to deception situations. Male participants were interrogated after they took part in 2 high-stake deception situations, one involving a mock crime and another involving a false opinion. The videotaped interrogations from each situation were shown to independent groups of undergraduate observers. The proportion of observers who judged each participant as truthful in one situation correlated highly with the proportion of observers who judged the same participant as truthful in the other situation. This was not correlated with physiognomy judgments. Follow-up studies revealed that although the participants showed consistency in their facial, body, and paralinguistic behaviors across situations, observers' judgments seemed to be driven only by the consistency of the dynamic facial behaviors. These results are discussed in terms of the evolutionary importance of the face in communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Deception*
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Truth Disclosure*