"Intuitive" Lie Detection of Children's Deception by Law Enforcement Officials and University Students

Law Hum Behav. 2004 Dec;28(6):661-85. doi: 10.1007/s10979-004-0793-0.


Adults' ability to detect children's deception was examined. Police officers, customs officers, and university students attempted to differentiate between children who lied or told the truth about a transgression. When children were simply questioned about the event (Experiment 1), the adult groups could not distinguish between lie-tellers and truth-tellers. However, participants were more accurate when the children had participated in moral reasoning tasks (Experiment 2) or promised to tell the truth (Experiment 3) before being interviewed. Additional exposure to the children did not affect accuracy (Experiment 4). Customs officers were more certain about their judgments than other groups, but no more accurate. Overall, adults have a limited ability to identify children's deception, regardless of their experience with lie detection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Deception*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Government*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Police*
  • Prejudice
  • Students*
  • Videotape Recording