G Model

JARMAC-182; No. of Pages 9

Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx

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Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jarmac

Original article

ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors
Chris NH Street ∗
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T1Z4

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 5 December 2014
Received in revised form 10 June 2015
Accepted 12 June 2015
Available online xxx
Deception detection
Truth bias
Adaptive lie detector
Adaptive decision making
Truth-default theory

a b s t r a c t
People make for poor lie detectors. They have accuracy rates comparable to a coin toss, and come with
a set of systematic biases that sway the judgment. This pessimistic view stands in contrast to research
showing that people make informed decisions that adapt to the context they operate in. The current
article proposes a new theoretical direction for lie detection research. I argue that lie detectors make
informed, adaptive judgments in a low-diagnostic world. This Adaptive Lie Detector (ALIED) account is
outlined by drawing on supporting evidence from across various psychological literatures. The account
is contrasted with longstanding and more recent accounts of the judgment process, which propose that
people fall back on default ways of thinking. Limitations of the account are considered, and future research
directions are outlined.
© 2015 Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights

People have little idea of when they are being lied to, with accuracy rates only marginally above chance (Bond & DePaulo, 2006;).
They seem to have the wrong beliefs about what cues give away
liars (The Global Deception Research Team, 2006), and even with
training there is only a modest increase in accuracy (Frank & Feeley,
2003; Hauch, Sporer, Michael, & Meissner, 2014). What is more,
there is a robust bias to take what others say at face value and
believe it is the truth, dubbed the “truth bias” (Bond & DePaulo,
2006; McCornack & Parks, 1986), which some have taken as evidence that people are gullible (Buller & Burgoon, 1996; O’Sullivan,
2003) and not in control of this bias (Gilbert, 1991). This pessimistic
view has been dominant in the field for some time (e.g., Bond &
DePaulo, 2006; Kraut, 1980; Mandelbaum, 2014; Vrij, Granhag, &
Porter, 2010). The current article takes a new position. I draw on
recent advances and present a more optimistic view of the lie detector: as one who makes informed judgments in a low diagnostic
world. In particular, I take a more Brunswikian point of view and
argue that people adapt their judgment strategies based on the
nature of the information available (see Brunswik, 1952). This is
referred to as the Adaptive Lie Detector account (ALIED).
1. Overview of the account
The ALIED account is inspired by advances in the decisionmaking literature, in particular the adaptive decision making

∗ Tel.: +1 6048220069.
E-mail address: c.street@psych.ubc.ca

perspective (Gigerenzer & Selten, 2001; Gigerenzer, Todd, & The
ABC Research Group, 1999; Simon, 1990). In an information-limited
world and with a finite cognitive capacity, people can arrive at satisfactorily accurate judgments. By adapting to the context, one can
put those limited resources to best use. Simplified strategies such
as recognition and heuristics allow for ‘satisficing’ inferences to
be made (Gigerenzer & Selten, 2001; Simon, 1956, 1990). Notably,
people do not default to leaning on their contextual knowledge,
but vicariously adapt what information they use in order to make
an informed judgment (Brunswik, 1952). These simplified contextgeneral rules help form decisions under uncertainty (Gigerenzer &
Gaissmaier, 2011; Simon, 1990).
ALIED proposes that people attempt to form a judgment about
a specific statement by using information that pertains directly to
that specific statement. For instance, a confession that the statement is false is an individuating piece of information that can help
us decide whether this particular statement is true or false. Similarly, verbal cues such as the amount of detail in the statement (e.g.,
Hartwig & Bond, 2011) are also specific to the current statement.
This is referred to as ‘individuating information’ because it gives us
information about this specific statement, rather than about statements in general.
The first key claim of ALIED is that raters trade off individuating
information with more context-general information, so that as the
individuating information becomes less diagnostic there is a greater
influence of context. ‘Context-general’ here is used to refer to information that is generalized across statements. For instance, it turns
out that most people tell the truth most of the time in their day-today interactions (DePaulo, Kashy, Kirkendol, Wyer, & Epstein, 1996;

2211-3681/© 2015 Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article in press as: Street, C.N. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and
Cognition (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2015.06.002

This is a second key claim of the account. It is no secret that the behavioral cue approach to lie detection has fallen out of favor in the lie detection community. ALIED fills this gap by arguing that people can make use of informed strategies.. is that the most recent theoretical advance in the lie detection field offers a theory that is more descriptive than predictive. Weber & Johnson.1016/j. How do raters tackle this uncertainty to make a lie–truth judgment? This seems like an obvious question. 2006). This should not be possible if the cognitive system defaults to believing others are telling the truth (Gilbert. Discussion is given to the use of individuating and context-general cues. ALIED addresses how people form their judgment. DePaulo & DePaulo. From there. Vrij & Granhag. predictable information in the environment.. There have been at least two suggestions for new research directions to address this. accuracy will depend on the diagnosticity of the individuating cues and whether the world really is biased in the same way that the rater believes (i. & Herrero. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. for a set of metaanalytic studies showing the degree to which people use behavioral cues). and how it can be functional to be truth biased. Using sensible. Interestingly. No. which has largely rid itself of the strictly rational and normative theories that show people to be error-prone in favor of theories that highlight the adaptive and flexible nature of decisions (see Kahneman & Tversky. the sole use of such context information will lead to systematic biases. Hopp. a rationale is given for the proposal of a new account. Those authors also noted that the lies told by Asch’s (1956) confederates in the line judgment study could have been easily detected if participants were given information about the aims of the experiment. Put another way. and does not directly address how they might make accurate judgments.. 1990). of the system. Levine. it is clear that there is uncertainty1 in making the judgment.N. with other accounts that suggest people have a cognitive default to believe others. predictions and limitations of the account are addressed. Levine. Kiani. Mellers. & Shaw.G Model JARMAC-182. “Wayne rarely lies”). 2009. it does not directly pertain to whether the current statement is the truth. Before moving into the main body of the argument. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. we must accept that people do incorporate behavioral cues into their judgments (see Hartwig & Bond. if the context suggests most speakers will lie and the rater has no or little individuating information to work from.. 2014). & Boster. By increasing the diagnosticity of cues. & Verschuere.2015. 2011. prior experience with similar situations (e. 1998. Schwartz. 2013. Gilbert. If there is a “trigger”. perhaps the most important.g. they place a very low ceiling on potential lie detection accuracy. such as where the crime occurred and what was stolen. a smart strategy is to be biased toward guessing speakers will lie. accurate or not. and that they can do so just as quickly and effortlessly as judging others to be telling the truth (Hanks. Krull. even if that results in poor accuracy. Alonso. rather than being a passive default response. paraverbal and nonverbal) cues to deception have low diagnosticity and appear only probabilistically (DePaulo et al. As we will see. truth and lie biases are thought to reflect an informed. As can be seen by these examples. The following section contrasts the claims of ALIED.doi.e. 2. According to ALIED. & Wohrmann.. I will consider why the truth bias can be considered an adaptive strategy. 1989). Because individuating behavioral cues have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al. To my knowledge there is no theory that claims the truth bias is an active. but it has surprisingly received little attention. For instance. Levine. 2014a) proposes that people passively default to believing others are telling the truth. 2009). accuracy should increase. Shalvi.. where appropriate) is a result of making use of context-general information. Masip. one of the strengths of the proposed account is that it is consistent with work from across a wide range of psychological disciplines. the correlation between the rater’s beliefs about the rate of honesty and the actual rate of honesty). suggesting that they may need explicit motivation to ignore individuating information. the account I outline here suggests the direction that the field should move toward. informed judgments in the current context does not necessarily entail that those judgments will therefore be accurate (Jussim. Because it is argued that people rely more on context-general information when individuating cues are either absent or low in diagnosticity. Other forms of generalized information that will also be subsumed under the heading of context-general are person-based information (e.jarmac. But if we are to understand how people make their judgment. 2010. 2012). Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). in this (dailylife) setting. This is useful context-general information because it tells us on average how often we will encounter lies. From there. Richter.g. 1982. but in the given context people usually tell the truth. I propose that neither direction (cue boosting or content in context) in isolation of the other will give us an understanding of how lie–truth judgments are made. the field must consider how people trade off context-related information with individuating cues in order to reach a judgment. Schroeder. and practical applications of the theory are offered. flexible and adaptive response to deal with uncertainty. But it does not tell us whether the current statement is a lie or truth. Indeed. 2003): There is no Pinocchio’s nose that clearly indicates a person is lying or telling the truth (Vrij. Blair et al. which argues people do not default to being biased. 2014a). it is useful to be truth biased when the individuating cues to deception have low diagnosticity (or are lacking entirely). 2009. Blair et al. http://dx. 2003).06. “people are fundamentally honest”).002 . The ALIED account is in accord with the decision-making literature. Truth-default theory (TDT: Levine. Some suggest that the field should try to find ways to evoke more diagnostic behavioral cues to deception (Hartwig & Bond. because all these generalize across statements. 2010). 2008). 2011.org/10. We must also accept that people do seem to track the context in which their judgment is made (e. “salespeople often lie to me”) and beliefs (e. 1975.g. 2012). ALIED claims the truth bias is not an ever-present default 1 Uncertainty refers to the objective lack of clear.. The emphasis here is on understanding the contents of a statement in a given context. raters should interpret what they hear in terms of the current context (Blair.g. In contrast to both the history of the field and more contemporary theories (e. which are unreliable. A final rationale. rather than the subjective experience of confidence. Others meanwhile have taken to a ‘content in context’ approach: Rather than focusing on what cues the liar portrays. 2010).. sensible guess to fill in for the absence of more diagnostic individuating cues. Halevy.g. Rather. Asp & Tranel.. Additionally. & Shadlen. the presence and direction of the bias is all a matter of context: Relying on context-general information (“most people will lie/tell the truth”) can be a useful aid to making an informed judgment in the absence of more precise information. Rationale for a new account Behavioral (verbal. those authors found that the content in context approach only works if participants are encouraged to attend to the context information. Garrido. Street & Richardson. It is important to note that no mention has been made of accuracy. 2011. Coupled with lie detection rates comparable to a coin toss (Bond & DePaulo. 2012. & Cooke. ALIED can explain why people sometimes show a bias toward judging others as lying. Specifically. a lie Please cite this article in press as: Street. Mazurek. It is also important to note that the context-general information is only correlated with honesty. C. The lie detection literature unfortunately has little cross-fertilization with judgment and decision-making work. (2010) showed how people can better detect lies about a crime if they were given contextual information about the crime itself.N. 1991. Serota. ALIED proposes that the truth bias (or lie bias. & Malone. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx 2 Grice.

. communication between people is useful only if both choose to deliver a message that is not false (Grice. ALIED offers a number of novel. and that it is just as fast and efficient as truth-biased judgments (Richter et al. it is more functional to make use of those cues to inform the judgment (see Bond et al. ALIED instead reinterprets past findings and develops novel predictions. First. 1975.N.. see also Blair et al. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. DePaulo & DePaulo. 2003). This is not to undermine the importance of TDT: it is undoubtedly a useful framework that synthesizes decades of work. Malloy. 2013.. Levine (2014a). raters are biased toward judging statements as lies (Bond. Sattler. In this sense. More generally. McNally & Jackson. & Kahneman. 2013. 1996. 1996. But the assumption requires the following also to be true: (a) people attend to individuating cues. has limited the scope of theorizing in the area. 1990. . Levine et al. (b) they can identify cues that are diagnostic and can separate them from the nondiagnostic cues. ALIED explains how both individuating cues and more generalized cues are used in the judgment process. (2013) found that when the motive behind a given statement was known (a perfectly diagnostic cue). 2010). 2010). and (c) they rely more on the individuating information than on the context-general information to make their judgment. C. & Blair. With the limited individuating cues available.. 2007). 2012). Arias.1016/j. 2011. Hertwig. if context-general information suggests that others will lie. Street & Richardson. Millar & Millar. nonverbal. & Thompson. such as police officers (Moston. Gilovich.. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). Zuckerman. Sperber. It is important that a bias toward disbelieving can be observed early in the process. 2014. but not a predictive one. If the cognitive system defaulted to believing statements are truthful.06. 2002). see also Masip & Herrero. even though such a situation is rare (see Levine. It is not clear whether the account makes the cognitive difficulty prediction. because it shows the bias is not a fixed cognitive default (see Nadarevic & Erdfelder. 2011. 2011.g. 2009. After all. raters are more prepared to infer others are lying (Bond et al. 1975). Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx judgment can be made. 1984. commonly thought of as an error.G Model JARMAC-182. Levine et al. We should also consider how judgments are made when highly diagnostic individuating cues are available. It seems reasonable to assume that if the individuating cues to deception are perfectly diagnostic.. Stephenson. Gigerenzer. Accuracy rates are likely so low not because of misguided beliefs then. Stiff. then a lie bias is far more functional because. The truth bias may be the result of using just such a simplified rule. 2014. Howard. Sperber et al. but because liars do not show reliable signs of deception: Behavioral cues – verbal. 2009. When they are strong and highly informative. 2003. 2006). Richter et al. 2015). But a recent set of meta-analytic studies showed that despite what people self-report they actually make use of the more diagnostic content and behavioral cues that are available (Hartwig & Bond. 2006). 4. we would not expect to see such rapid and effortless biases toward lying in different contexts. 1997. 2005. Meiser. Raters usually need to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity in the environment to reach a judgment. it is more likely to give higher accuracy rates than a truth-biased response. This can be seen even from the earliest moments of consideration. A surprising result of this integration is that the truth bias. Simon. Vrij & Semin. 2009. in the long run. 2013. Given this flexibility. accuracy was almost perfect. Although relatively little research has considered lie detection in highly diagnostic environments. 2013). Mulder. numerically quantifiable predictions that are yet to be tested. is reconceptualized as both functional and flexible. 2008. & Pachur. Halevy et al. Koestner.. Serota et al. When the individuating deception cues in the environment are uninformative. The possibility that the bias is a fixed cognitive default is considered further in Please cite this article in press as: Street. Kim. 2011. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. They report focusing on non-diagnostic information such as eye contact. and evidence is cognitively ¨ retrieved and/or sought to assess honesty-deceit(italics added). 3 Of course. a bias toward believing is functional: it will generally lead to the correct judgment (Jekel. Context: When a truth bias is and is not functional A truth bias is commonly observed in lie detection experiments (Bond & DePaulo.002 . this situation is rare. see also Garcia-Retamero & Rieskamp. 1992. readily detectable liars). 2014). 2013.. 2014. is sufficiently potent. The context proviso is important: If the current context makes it more likely that people will lie. Sporer & Schwandt. People seem to have the wrong beliefs about what clues identify a liar (The Global Deception Research Team. Strömwall & Granhag. The reason is that speakers typically tell the truth (DePaulo et al. the truth bias is only functional if most people tell the truth in the current context. Tuerlinckx. Perhaps one falsifiable claim that might be inferred from TDT is that. it allows (and maybe requires) that anything causing a lie judgment is defined as a trigger. Grice. http://dx. As such. The bias must reflect the current context if it is to be adaptive. This. it is difficult to generate testable predictions. it may be cognitively more effortful to make lie than truth judgments: “If a trigger. show a lie bias (Meissner & Kassin. raters seem to attend to the more diagnostic ones. 2010).doi. 1992).. rather than trying to push one approach over the other. How do people deal with probabilistic and low-diagnostic individuating information? In such uncertain situations. & Ramesh. . 2007). 2007). & Williamson. in the sense of both functional and flexible. Nunn. 2002). 3. 2011). 2006.org/10. see also Kim & Levine. paraverbal – are infrequent and have low diagnostic value (Sporer & Schwandt.. assuming the individuating cues are weak. Hutchison.jarmac.. For instance. 2014). for overviews see Gigerenzer & Gaissmaier. informed by past experience with the situation. suggesting the lie bias can be fast and effortless (Hanks et al.. When the situation makes it difficult for speakers to tell the truth. Hogarth & Karelaia. It seems that we have arrived at a detailed descriptive theory of lie detection. 2010. those few studies that used highly diagnostic individuating cues found that people can achieve near perfect accuracy (Bond. 2010. 1993. 2013. Levine. The second caveat to the functionality of the truth bias is that. Street & Richardson. a threshold is crossed. This is perhaps the first evidence that lie detectors are more adaptive (in the sense of functional) than they were previously thought to have been.N. Griffin. on the possibility of a few transparent. & Masip. 1952. 1989. & von Hecker. Individuating cues to deception are typically weak and have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al. Bond et al. In summary. the evidence is in accord with the ALIED proposal that people rely on generalized rules informed by their knowledge of the situation (Fiedler & Walka. Jussim. I argue. people can achieve perfect accuracy. Although a number of triggers are offered by the theory. & Driver.. it makes good sense to use the generalized rule that a speaker is telling the truth. it is functional to have a context-based bias if the individuating cues to deception are weak or lacking. . Habermas.2015. 1981). the list is non-exhaustive. And those who expect most speakers will lie to them. 2012. Glöckner. van Ravenzwaaij. & Maydych. because it takes a similar default position to that proposed by Gilbert (1991). But there are two caveats to this functionality of the truth bias. No. Kim. Until relatively recently the field has mostly explored lie–truth judgments in situations where the individuating cues are weak. Bröder. & Wagenmakers. .. These rules allow people to reach ‘good enough’ judgments from limited information (Brunswik. which was thought to explain their inaccuracy. 2013. Individuating cues For some time low accuracy was largely thought of as a knowledge problem (e.

Although this guessing bias is consistent with ALIED.. 1980.. see also Anderson. 2009. KordtsFreudinger. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. But as the individuating information becomes less diagnostic participants switch to using more generalized base-rate information (Ginossar & Trope. In their study.doi.06. For example. Koehler. 2010. Lick & Johnson. in situations where there is a large scope for uncertainty). 2014a. For simplicity. Kahn. there is evidence that negating a statement (e. Huette. Mannetti. Kim. Leyens.jarmac. 2005). Koenig. 2014. time or effort to override the default? Both long-standing (Gilbert. Lane & Harris. 1980. Quas. Diamond. 1995). Rye.g. Mitchell & Nye.g. Although they will often show a bias to believe others (e. What determines if it is cognitively more taxing to believe or disbelieve? The common underlying factor is whether the information is incongruent with the listener’s experience and expectations (Gervais & Henrich. C. 1988). Schadron. Levine & McCornack.g. Street & Richardson. & Isaacs. & Spivey. 1990. Yzerbyt. 2004. Street & Richardson. this is not an all-encompassing. 2014. Kruglanski et al. but other available sources of generalized information could take its place. 1995. for evidence in the psycholinguistic literature). ever-present naivety to believe everything (see Clément.G Model ARTICLE IN PRESS JARMAC-182. 2008). Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). No. Ma & Ganea. ‘the eagle is not in the sky’) compared to affirming a statement (e. 2009. Such a strong position is hard to defend. Put another way. 2015). Kelley. if the context suggests statements are truthful.. The Spinozan account offers no flexibility in its truth bias: Even forewarning does not allow people to overcome their default truth belief (Gilbert et al. of Pages 9 4 C. 2010. 1991. raters who were forced to make a lie–truth judgment showed a truth bias. even when cognitive resources are limited by means of a cognitive load (Millar & Millar. see Skowronski & Carlston. 6. 2005. If the context information has faded from memory. 1991. see also Mitchell. people are Spinozan truth-biased when individuating cues to meaning are lacking: People are guessing information is true only when they are unsure (Street & Richardson. 1996. in certain contexts it may take more effort to believe what others say is true. 2011. The same strategies can be observed in young children who are still developing executive control (De Luca & Leventer. & Runner. 2004). & Birch. for an argument in support of the Spinozan position). But when there is more individuating information available. Tanenhaus. Woolley & Ghossainy.. 19973 . Similarly. 1997. Robinson. for similar findings without a suspicion manipulation). & Strack. Please cite this article in press as: Street. A standardized effect size was not reported. No amount of effort can prevent the initial truth belief (Gilbert et al. 1992.g. Thus it seems context-relevant knowledge is being used to compensate for the absence of more immediately available diagnostic evidence (Bar-Hillel. Schul. 1990. Truth bias as a cognitive default Might there still be room for an account claiming that people default to believing others and that disbelieving requires additional 2 As already alluded to. Koch. 2014. ‘the eagle is in the sky’) can be faster.N. Gawronski. Stiff et al. Alves. 2014) takes a strong default position.. Van Swol. 2004). Mandelbaum. Widmeyer & Loy. 2002. 1994). 2013. Unkelbach. 2014. at first. Street and Richardson (2015a) argued for just such a view of lie detection. In fact. 2014.N. this article refers to context-based information. People do rely on oversimplified rules to interpret the ambiguous.4% more lie judgments under high load than low load. 1978) and recent (Levine. see also Reinhard & Sporer. see also Barbey & Sloman. Yoon. they should rely more on context when the individuating cues have low diagnosticity. 2002). So it is not always more cognitively taxing to disbelieve.1016/j. Nadarevic and Erdfelder (2013) suggest the evidence supporting the Spinozan account is limited to situations where people have no background knowledge. but this difference was not statistically significant.. and reflects an understanding of the current context2 . 1985). & Spencer. people can rely on other information such as meta-cognitive feelings of familiarity (Skurnik. People are more likely to make lie judgments when made suspicious than when they are not suspicious (e. it is important for the ALIED account to show that people rely less on context when the cues in the immediate environment have high diagnosticity. 1990). Pierro. 2007. & Rocher. Davies. 1977. Bayer. 2014a) accounts have proposed the truth bias reflects a default belief. Dang. for similar findings in impression formation research). Mayo. 1980. and where the statements are uninformative (i. Matlock. They use simple generalized rules to decide what to believe. It claims that people have no choice but to believe what others say is true. 1971). 2010. 2004. 1990). Truth-default theory (TDT: Levine. as a default account would claim. 2014). 2009. and has been criticized both empirically and conceptually (e... The ‘Spinozan’ account (Gilbert. Toris & DePaulo. Mandelbaum. suggesting the bias reflects a guess to deal with uncertainty. & Lyon. people make a similar proportion of lie judgments when under cognitive load than when there is no load (Millar & Millar. although see Mandelbaum. 2007). see also Schwarz. This is because people would no longer need to make an ‘educated guess’ to cope with the environmental uncertainty. there is less reliance on generalized stereotypic knowledge (Kunda. 2007. 1991.002 . base rates provide a useful overview of the current situation. McCornack & Levine. they rapidly activate knowledge that is incongruent with the content of the speaker’s message (Schul et al.org/10. the current context is not the only way to make informed judgments when unsure. These findings suggest there need not be greater cognitive resources available to disbelieve others’ statements (Hasson et al.. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx Section 6. 2014. Morison & Gardner. and when people are made to feel distrustful. see also Reyes-Jaquez & Echols. 5. & Harris. Robinson. Brosseau-Liard. 2014). & Jones. 2015a). see also Woolley & Ghossainy. respondents made 7. 2008. characters committing a good or bad act are judged as truth-tellers and liars. Similarly. & Mack. respectively (Wandrey. Integrating individuating cues with context As well as being flexible to context. Dodd & Bradshaw. But if more diagnostic individuating information is available. & Burnstein. Robinson et al. children as young as 4 years make use of it instead of showing a blanket bias to believe or disbelieve (Brosseau-Liard & Birch. see also Clément et al.. Erb. it is also consistent with another default account that makes more conservative claims. 2014a) proposes a presumption of truth on part of the listener because people either fail to consider the possibility of a lie or they cannot find enough evidence to warrant switching from the default truth belief (Levine. raters make relatively little use of the base rates. When more individuating information is available. & Chun. in contrast to default theories. Biased responding seems to be adaptive and flexible. 2012.. 1997).. Park & Schwarz. truth-biased responders do not require additional cognitive effort or more processing time to consider the possibility of deception (Richter et al. 1987. For instance. Kruglanski.. & Stahl. Adams. Neuropsychological research finds that closed neuronal circuits create a self-feedback loop so that the uncertainty in incomplete representations can be filled in by using previously stored context-generalized information (Marr.. Street & Richardson. and effortless (Deutsch. http://dx.2015.g. 2015). unintentional. then truth 3 In their sample. Cassels.e. But raters who could explicitly indicate they were unsure showed a reduced truth bias. 2013. Gunlogson. Only afterwards can the initial belief be re-evaluated. And when made suspicious. 2014.. 1950. uncertain behavior of others to fill in on missing pieces of information (Higgins. 2010. Rholes. That is. 2015). Subbotsky. 2015a. However.

and because individuating cues are usually weak (DePaulo et al. accuracy increases because the environment becomes more representative of a context-based heuristic. When highly diagnostic cues are available. Study 1).doi. 2004. 2011)..g. C. because people’s prior experiences suggest most people tell the truth (DePaulo et al. 2013. accuracy should decrease when most people are lying. The same is true of individuating cues.. Because TDT claims the truth bias is a default. i. 2001) shows that accuracy increases as the base rate of honesty increases. Consider a recent finding by Bond et al. Thus a mismatch between (a) subjective perceptions of context-general/individuating cues and (b) the objective diagnosticity of context-general/individuating 5 cues will lead to lower accuracy rates compared to when there is a match..002 . Notice that no distinction has been made between the truth bias and the lie bias. the use of context-general information should increase. to use individuating behavioral information was not misguided because it nonetheless resulted in an impressive accuracy rate.org/10. The adaptive strategy I have argued for should often lead to relatively accurate judgments compared to random guessing. If the context suggested most people would lie. Limitations of an adaptive lie detector account Although ALIED offers a number of testable predictions and synthesizes work across psychological disciplines. ALIED would predict that a more general version of the P–L model could be constructed such that a dummy variable is multiplied to their formula to account for context: The variable should be −1 when people are expected to lie (thus accuracy should be greatest when the base rate of lies is greatest) and +1 when people are expected to tell the truth (thus accuracy should be greatest when the base rate of honesty is greatest)4 . (ii) The less diagnostic an individuating cue is.N. How is the integration of context-general and individuating cues carried out? A simple linear model should be able to capture this behavior: As the diagnosticity of the individuating cues decrease. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. 2010. it would be difficult for ALIED to explain a positive relationship between the use context-general and individuating information. This trade-off should be easily simulated with a linear model. context-general information should have less of an influence on the decision process. it has its limitations. Instead. If raters fail to notice or process diagnostic individuating cues (which may be assessed by means of a lens model analysis. Or in terms of ALIED. http://dx. Hartwig & Bond. they can lead to highly inaccurate judgments: In situations where beliefs about (subjective perceptions of) the diagnosticity of individuating cues and/or about the context-general information diverges markedly from the true (objective) state of the world. Even when a perfectly diagnostic cue is available in the form of incentives the speaker has for lying. without incentive information). and so should lead to context-informed judgments. the ALIED position encapsulates default theories by claiming that the support for default theories is the result of a fixed truth-suggestive context. which causes lower accuracy. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). Woolley & Ghossainy. The Park–Levine (P–L) probability model (Park & Levine. for example). But ALIED argues that. This again offers a testable prediction of the account.N. First. context information guides the belief judgment process only in the absence of more individuating cues. 2011. Put simply. so too will the response bias. 2014a) would propose that accuracy increases because the environment becomes more representative of people’s default cognitive tendency to believe others are telling the truth. ALIED would predict that responding would be reverse to the P–L probability model such that accuracy would increase as more and more people lied.g. As recent meta-analyses have shown us. TDT (Levine. Put another way. Boerger. Such a numerical prediction should be relatively easy to test. But as I will show in Section 8 this prediction is not entirely unchallenged. which leaves open an opportunity for falsifying the account. 8. this would be problematic for the ALIED account. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx judgments are less cognitively taxing to make.. But it can lead to wildly inaccurate judgments too. where context-based general information is relied upon more heavily as an individuating cue becomes more diagnostic. Levine et al. If the lie bias can be shown to be functionally distinct from the truth bias. In the presence of highly diagnostic individuating cues. not increase.. There is some albeit limited evidence in the lie detection literature to support this (Bond et al. Assuming the absence of individuating cues. if the raters’ beliefs about the current context (e. accuracy was still relatively high when behavioral information was available (just under 80%).2015. Under the ALIED account. similar to previously reported accuracy rates using behavioral information alone (i. Although this seems to undermine the account. people will make use of them to form their lie–truth judgments. and more importantly. incentive information and behavioral cues are both individuating cues—they each speak 4 Although one must be careful to note that ALIED would predict this model would perform more poorly in accounting for accuracy as the diagnosticity of individuating cues increase. This is only true provided there is an absence of more tangible and readily testable individuating evidence (Gervais & Henrich.. (i) highly diagnostic individuating-cues should guide the judgment. 7.e. (2013.G Model ARTICLE IN PRESS JARMAC-182. (iv) Although the strategies people use are adaptive and functional. 2014). & Markman. which may exhibit itself in reaction times or other measures of judgment difficulty. in an experimental setting usually there is an equal proportion of liars and truth-tellers). raters still incorporate less diagnostic behavioral information into their judgment. In summary. No. most people tell the truth) diverge from the actual state of the environment (e. then raters should rely on context-general information to make an informed guess. (vi) It may even be possible to generalize the P–L model to account for the effect of contextgeneralized information. the use of context-general information increases.jarmac. the more impact context-general information will have on the final judgment. As such. Woolley. people do not have a cognitive default to believe. Predictions of the ALIED account One of the advantages of ALIED is that it offers a number of predictions that can be tested. and as arising from different underlying processes. 1996).1016/j. judgments consistent with context-general information should be cognitively easier. these biases are functionally equivalent and result from the same underlying process: an attempt to make an informed guess in the absence of more diagnostic individuating cues. and so there should be less cognitive difficulty in making judgments that contrast with context-general information. people must on some level know that there are diagnostic individuating cues available. When the context shifts. again assuming the individuating cues are weak.. (iii) Individuating and context-general cues will be used to different degrees in a judgment. Importantly. The account assumes that as individuating information becomes less diagnostic or absent. as TDT would argue. So although accuracy clearly declined. People do not always rely on the best evidence available to them. Second. Please cite this article in press as: Street. we cannot trust people’s self-report to assess what diagnostic cues are available (Hartwig & Bond.06. 2013). 2003). but as yet I am unaware of any published data that has assessed this. of Pages 9 C.e. there are two important caveats. Not detecting a diagnostic individuating cue is equivalent to that cue not being present. Some further predictions may be garnered from Section 9.

But ALIED does not claim people always make the most accurate judgment: otherwise researchers would only need to look at the environment to be able to perfectly predict behavior (Simon. They can vary from social rules (O’Sullivan.. 1996. 2012. The Global Deception Research Team. But before trying to remove biases from lie–truth judgments.06. This has implications beyond the domains of detecting deception. A more problematic limitation is that ALIED does not propose how people select or integrate various types of context-general cues. 2011).. This places a limit on the explanatory power of the account. 1999). This does not seem very adaptive or functional. This fact. Stahl. In their absence.. Schwarz. Schwarz & Clore. 2010. 9. This has drastic implications for how the field should progress. rather than making a forced choice. It does not necessarily follow that less biased judgments will be more accurate judgments (Jussim. say. Street & Richardson.org/10. but in individual instances it may lead to incorrect judgments. and if they are all integrated into the judgment or if people select only a small set of the available cues. But despite this benefit. 2014b). Thus salient. Buller & Burgoon. if we are to improve lie detection accuracy we must increase the diagnosticity of individuating cues. Given that manipulations of generalized suspicion and other manipulations sometimes only reduce the truth bias rather than result in a lie bias (e. and more internally coherent with other available information. Levine. it may be that the speakers’ behaviors. Street. more compatible with what one believes. it may be that people integrate their context-general beliefs about. Clearly then. being more salient than abstracted incentive information. Park. (ii) how raters try to make the lie–truth judgment.doi. amongst others. or giving further information about the motives and incentives behind the statement (Bond et al. cited by Reinhard & Sporer. 2015. Greifeneder. 2013. 2015. 2015). 2012). Street & Richardson. It is an adaptive strategy to rely on more generalized context-general information when more individuating cues have low diagnosticity. & Richardson. practitioners and lay people who are required to make veracity assessments must come to rely on diagnostic individuating cues and be aware of when those cues are absent. This account of Bond et al. the base rate of honesty with other context-general cues (e. and (iii) where that judgment process goes wrong. improves their recall accuracy (Koriat & Goldsmith. developmental. 2015a). we must first ask whether we ought to remove judgmental biases at all.. using effective questioning methods to probe the statement (Levine. To attain reliable accuracy rates. personal relationships (McCornack & Levine. Gilbert. When this option is available. 1992). only one component of the lie detection process.002 . Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. 2006) show people do not always make the most accurate judgments. & Anderson. the account places focus on how people can make adaptive judgments when individuating cues are absent or lacking diagnosticity. are given more credence and so more weighting in the judgment (see Nisbett & Ross. I still believe we must rid ourselves of the truth bias.g. Dale. This generalized knowledge will be adaptive in the long run.g. rather.. 1993. Poppe. Street and Richardson (2015b) argue saliency may be the key to explaining why accuracy improves when using the indirect lie detection method. 1993. people must be encouraged to acknowledge the uncertainty in the environment and then abstain from judgment. By integrating across cognitive.g.2015.jarmac. Most organizations are concerned with effective and unbiased decision-making. Van Der Zee. suspicion) in the current environment (see Street & Richardson. 2000. 2010). This might mean amplifying behavioral cues (Vrij & Granhag.. 2001. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx 6 directly to the veracity of the given statement. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. & Wänke. 2015). By gaining a further understanding of how and why people lie. Finally. Dechêne. ALIED argues the truth bias. Reducing judgmental biases may mean paying attention to when there are few or no diagnostic individuating cues available and refraining from making a guess. 1990. we need a theory that can explain if and when different types of context-general cues are used. 1991. One of the most important contributions of the ALIED account. 2015. 2012. C. Schwarz’s (2015) ‘Big Five’ criteria shows that the easier it is to process some information. the more likely that information is to be supported by other evidence. Hansen. easily processed information can often act as a useful proxy to guide truth judgments (Ask. 2007). The account does not make any claims as to how people select or integrate multiple diagnostic individuating cues. Future work is required to test this speculation. the bias has been shown to reduce or disappear (Street & Kingstone.N. but it is consistent with previous findings and shows how even salience can be relied upon to make an informed choice (Schwarz. base rates (Park & Levine. and judgment and decision-making research. Blair et al. Taylor. No. & Reinhard. social. 1980).’s (2013) findings is of course mere speculation. the theoretical account offered here stands in sharp contrast to the long-held view that lie detectors are error-prone (e. the word ‘bias’ unfortunately implies an erroneous imbalance that must be corrected (see Street & Masip. 2012). Practical application As is widely known in the community. ALIED claims that the bias comes about as an attempt to make an informed guess in the absence of more individuating cues by relying more heavily on context-general information.G Model JARMAC-182. Schuetzler. http://dx. sparked a rush to application. Duran. 2012). is the result of an attempt to make accurate judgments by relying on informed but generalized strategies. This has largely been lacking in theory (Köhnken. before the speaker has even begun to deliver a statement). 2003). the consistently low accuracy rates (Bond & DePaulo. remaining agnostic.g. To reliably improve lie detection in applied settings. coupled with the obvious applications to. Kraut. Please cite this article in press as: Street. we should in turn be able to focus our scientific telescope on the relevant behaviors to discover what individuating clues there may be to deception (Burgoon. Fiedler. 1999. 2015). It is important to note that salience can be functional and lead to informed judgments. Reber & Schwarz.. and to encourage the field to explore lie detection from a process-oriented perspective.1016/j. For instance. the police force and military investigations. is to provide a process-oriented foundation from which to begin addressing how best to detect deception. Speculatively. Miller & Stiff. should we flip a coin to decide if a statement is a lie or truth? Or should we instead make use of our prior knowledge of the world and other contextgeneral information to make an informed choice? The latter seems more likely to lead to more accurate judgments in the long run. 2006. 2014. 2013. if there were no diagnostic individuating cues available (e. 2015b). 1990). & Wilson. Vrij & Granhag. This is particularly important if we are to prevent people guessing (or assuming) that someone will lie or tell the truth before they have even begun speaking. 1996). Platzer & Bröder. 2006). Kello. Street & Richardson. 2010. and by exploring how behavior unfolds. and metacognition is likely to play an important role here (see Ask et al. then.. But some work in the memory domain finds that allowing people to indicate they are uncertain. we must understand (i) the processes underlying how and why people deceive. 2012). lie detection accuracy is only marginally above chance (Bond & DePaulo.N. A very simple way to do this is to give people the explicit option of saying “unsure”. Instead. & McCornack. 1980. 2014) and even emotion and affect (Shackman et al. say. Miller & Stiff. Hypothetically. for consideration of this possibility). In line with current thinking. This may be easier said than done. and it may be fruitful to integrate those findings into the ALIED account. Indeed. rather than forcing them into making a lie or truth judgment.

1–20). NY: Oxford University Press.002 . Malone. F. B.. R. R. A.). A. (2010). e108308. Greifeneder. New York. L. and social services. and Walter Bischof and Ben Vincent for their discussions. Personality and Social Psychology Review.doi. (1989). M. Fast and fragile: A new look at the automaticity of negation processing. Muhlenbruck. Nunn.. 12(1). M. D. You seem certain but you were wrong before: Developmental change in preschoolers’ relative trust in accurate versus confident speakers. it is argued these biases appear in the research because more diagnostic individuating cues are absent (see Bond et al. (2004). & Birch. B. Wyer. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. context-general information is liable to play a relatively large role. Hospital staff must be careful not to give out sensitive information about a celebrity if a press reporter calls posing as a family member. 383–416). J. & Spivey. A. Barbey.. In F. Principles of frontal lobe function (pp. and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Huette. may serve to guide the direction of the judgment. R. Principles of frontal lobe function (pp. E. may lead to incorrect judgments about a given statement and so should be treated with caution. G. In R. Meaning. E. & Sloman. D.. 211–233. In P. R... This work was supported by Federal Canadian grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Content in context improves deception detection accuracy. & Thompson. Chicago. Brunswik. J. Bar-Hillel. 18(1–2). 36. Levine et al. Bar-Hillel. 779–784. NY: Oxford University Press.. leisure centres and office space—with mobile courts that change their location over time” (Chambers. Arias. 360–379. Kordts-Freudinger. S. Turner (Eds.. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.). 423–442. L. M. ALIED argues there is no cognitive defaulting toward believing others. compared to interviewing the same person in a more relaxed environment such as the suspect’s/witness’ own home? This is a particularly pressing issue in England and Wales presently. 434–446. M. 241–297. P. people should pay attention to the lack of highly diagnostic individuating cues often this means a lack of cues indicating honesty.. Chambers. (2009). P. Future courts: A new vision for summary justice. T. then. 2003). R. In D.). Interpersonal deception theory.. (1980). (1990). & DePaulo. R. Epistemic states and traits: Preschoolers appreciate the differential informativeness of situation-specific and personspecific cues to knowledge. Human Communication Research. F. C. M.org.. How might the dispensing of justice be influenced by the subtler contextgeneral cues in these different environments? ALIED suggests the setting may guide credibility judgments in the absence of more diagnostic cues to honesty or deception. IL: The University of Chicago Press. & Wänke. Gawronski. Cassels. R. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx The role of context-general information has a greater effect when individuating cues have low diagnosticity. M. (1956). Executive functions and the frontal lobes: A lifespan perspective (pp. (1996). & Burgoon. A.. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). Anderson. & Epstein. Lindsay. might interviewing a suspect or witness in the back of a police car lead to more guilt-presumptive questioning and expectations of deception. The ontogenesis of trust. A. Anderson. Asp.. Hogarth (Ed. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied..jarmac. J. (1952). M. CA: CSLI Publications. E. Lying in everyday life. M.. (2013). Richardson and Alan Kingstone for their guidance. The conceptual framework of psychology. & Leventer. 1552–1577. Brosseau-Liard. Bond.. C.2015. & R. In D. rather than deception and to be aware of the potential context-general cues that they may be relying on when deciding to trust or distrust others. T. they may feel they have no choice but to make a lie–truth judgment.. & Strack. 70. Stanford. J. E. D.G Model JARMAC-182. D. 238–257. The latter is liable to lead to biases that. Diamond. Chicago.. A. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. This will ultimately exhibit itself as a truth or lie bias. Normal development of prefrontal cortex from birth to young adulthood: Cognitive functions. Potentially subtle cues in the environment. Jacobs (Eds. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.N.1016/j. R. & Shaw. Deutsch. & Wilson.. (2003). 1–24. N. V. Stuss. & Davis. They have a magistrate system where lay members of the community act as volunteer judges on more minor offences such as theft.. 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V. and that individuating cues typically have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al.. 2014 for accurate judgments in high diagnostic environments) and raters are attempting to make an informed guess—informed by their understanding of the current context. 2014). A minority of one against a unanimous majority.policyexchange. McLeod. W. anatomy... Anderson. Please cite this article in press as: Street.. to be aware of the basis of their judgment—whether it is the result of individuating cues or context-general cues. Insights in decision making: A tribute to Hillel J Einhorn (pp. S. B. P. Retrieved from http://www. & Davis. Blair. Stuss. A. New York. So in many circumstances. Matlock. and that it is not always cognitively more difficult to make a lie rather than a truth judgment. On the temporal dynamics of negated perceptual simulations. (2007). & R. Buller. 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