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This article is part of the Research Topic Towards a neuroscience of social interaction

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 17 April 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00087

“You can’t kid a kidder”: association between production and detection of deception in an interactive deception task

Gordon R. T. Wright1, Christopher J. Berry2 and Geoffrey Bird1,3*
  • 1Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK
  • 2Department of Cognitive and Perceptual Brain Sciences, University College London, London, UK
  • 3Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK

Both the ability to deceive others, and the ability to detect deception, has long been proposed to confer an evolutionary advantage. Deception detection has been studied extensively, and the finding that typical individuals fare little better than chance in detecting deception is one of the more robust in the behavioral sciences. Surprisingly, little research has examined individual differences in lie production ability. As a consequence, as far as we are aware, no previous study has investigated whether there exists an association between the ability to lie successfully and the ability to detect lies. Furthermore, only a minority of studies have examined deception as it naturally occurs; in a social, interactive setting. The present study, therefore, explored the relationship between these two facets of deceptive behavior by employing a novel competitive interactive deception task (DeceIT). For the first time, signal detection theory (SDT) was used to measure performance in both the detection and production of deception. A significant relationship was found between the deception-related abilities; those who could accurately detect a lie were able to produce statements that others found difficult to classify as deceptive or truthful. Furthermore, neither ability was related to measures of intelligence or emotional ability. We, therefore, suggest the existence of an underlying deception-general ability that varies across individuals.

Keywords: deception, deception detection, lying, signal detection theory, social cognition

Citation: Wright GRT, Berry CJ and Bird G (2012) “You can’t kid a kidder”: association between production and detection of deception in an interactive deception task. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6:87. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00087

Received: 28 December 2011; Paper pending published: 14 February 2012;
Accepted: 26 March 2012; Published online: 17 April 2012.

Edited by:

Chris Frith, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, UK

Reviewed by:

Bradford C. Dickerson, Harvard Medical School, USA
Kirsten G. Volz, Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Germany

Copyright: © 2012 Wright, Berry and Bird. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Geoffrey Bird, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, WC1E 7HX London, UK. e-mail: g.bird@bbk.ac.uk