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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

The lie detection literature unfortunately has little cross-fertilization with judgment and decision-making work. of the system. 2009). 2006). Kiani. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. 2003). Schroeder. The emphasis here is on understanding the contents of a statement in a given context.g. But it does not tell us whether the current statement is a lie or truth. Interestingly. Weber & Johnson. Schwartz. Levine. The ALIED account is in accord with the decision-making literature.. Krull. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx 2 Grice. even if that results in poor accuracy. and how it can be functional to be truth biased. & Cooke. perhaps the most important. and that they can do so just as quickly and effortlessly as judging others to be telling the truth (Hanks. the correlation between the rater’s beliefs about the rate of honesty and the actual rate of honesty).org/10. 1975. such as where the crime occurred and what was stolen. The following section contrasts the claims of ALIED. Discussion is given to the use of individuating and context-general cues.g. raters should interpret what they hear in terms of the current context (Blair. Put another way. No. 2010). 2012). Some suggest that the field should try to find ways to evoke more diagnostic behavioral cues to deception (Hartwig & Bond. & Wohrmann. sensible guess to fill in for the absence of more diagnostic individuating cues. ALIED can explain why people sometimes show a bias toward judging others as lying.g. Because it is argued that people rely more on context-general information when individuating cues are either absent or low in diagnosticity. a smart strategy is to be biased toward guessing speakers will lie. the sole use of such context information will lead to systematic biases. it is useful to be truth biased when the individuating cues to deception have low diagnosticity (or are lacking entirely). 1990). & Malone. Garrido. Street & Richardson. and practical applications of the theory are offered. Rather. 2. accuracy should increase. Asp & Tranel. Richter.N. Before moving into the main body of the argument.1016/j. Mazurek. This is useful context-general information because it tells us on average how often we will encounter lies. To my knowledge there is no theory that claims the truth bias is an active.06. 2012). it is clear that there is uncertainty1 in making the judgment. Alonso. one of the strengths of the proposed account is that it is consistent with work from across a wide range of psychological disciplines. 2011. is that the most recent theoretical advance in the lie detection field offers a theory that is more descriptive than predictive. which are unreliable. This should not be possible if the cognitive system defaults to believing others are telling the truth (Gilbert. 2009. As can be seen by these examples. 2011. & Herrero. (2010) showed how people can better detect lies about a crime if they were given contextual information about the crime itself.. we must accept that people do incorporate behavioral cues into their judgments (see Hartwig & Bond. Truth-default theory (TDT: Levine. It is important to note that no mention has been made of accuracy. If there is a “trigger”. http://dx. suggesting that they may need explicit motivation to ignore individuating information. 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. Coupled with lie detection rates comparable to a coin toss (Bond & DePaulo. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. By increasing the diagnosticity of cues.g. 1998. 1991. because all these generalize across statements. 2014a). Other forms of generalized information that will also be subsumed under the heading of context-general are person-based information (e. the account I outline here suggests the direction that the field should move toward. As we will see. for a set of metaanalytic studies showing the degree to which people use behavioral cues). Masip.002 . Others meanwhile have taken to a ‘content in context’ approach: Rather than focusing on what cues the liar portrays. DePaulo & DePaulo. & Verschuere. Shalvi. if the context suggests most speakers will lie and the rater has no or little individuating information to work from.. Blair et al. they place a very low ceiling on potential lie detection accuracy. C. Specifically. which argues people do not default to being biased. rather than the subjective experience of confidence.. ALIED fills this gap by arguing that people can make use of informed strategies. We must also accept that people do seem to track the context in which their judgment is made (e. Using sensible. it does not directly pertain to whether the current statement is 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.2015. a rationale is given for the proposal of a new account. In contrast to both the history of the field and more contemporary theories (e.N. 2010). But if we are to understand how people make their judgment. It is also important to note that the context-general information is only correlated with honesty. 2014). Blair et al. It is no secret that the behavioral cue approach to lie detection has fallen out of favor in the lie detection community. I will consider why the truth bias can be considered an adaptive strategy. 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. & Shadlen. Hopp. 2010. Levine. From there. Levine.. 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. According to ALIED. Serota. 2008). From there. 2009. For instance. prior experience with similar situations (e. Halevy. and does not directly address how they might make accurate judgments. 2012. & Shaw. There have been at least two suggestions for new research directions to address this. but it has surprisingly received little attention... Indeed. in this (dailylife) setting. A final rationale. & Boster. a lie Please cite this article in press as: Street. Vrij & Granhag.doi. 2014a) proposes that people passively default to believing others are telling the truth. 1989).G Model JARMAC-182. predictable information in the environment. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). ALIED claims the truth bias is not an ever-present default 1 Uncertainty refers to the objective lack of clear. 2011.e.jarmac. accurate or not. “people are fundamentally honest”). Gilbert. rather than being a passive default response. 2013. flexible and adaptive response to deal with uncertainty. with other accounts that suggest people have a cognitive default to believe others. “salespeople often lie to me”) and beliefs (e. 1982.. but in the given context people usually tell the truth. ALIED proposes that the truth bias (or lie bias. How do raters tackle this uncertainty to make a lie–truth judgment? This seems like an obvious question. the field must consider how people trade off context-related information with individuating cues in order to reach a judgment. those authors found that the content in context approach only works if participants are encouraged to attend to the context information. truth and lie biases are thought to reflect an informed. Because individuating behavioral cues have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al. where appropriate) is a result of making use of context-general information. ALIED addresses how people form their judgment. “Wayne rarely lies”). paraverbal and nonverbal) cues to deception have low diagnosticity and appear only probabilistically (DePaulo et al. Additionally.. predictions and limitations of the account are addressed. 2003): There is no Pinocchio’s nose that clearly indicates a person is lying or telling the truth (Vrij. This is a second key claim of the account. Mellers. 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. informed judgments in the current context does not necessarily entail that those judgments will therefore be accurate (Jussim.g.

2006). 1996. Sattler. a threshold is crossed. Strömwall & Granhag. we would not expect to see such rapid and effortless biases toward lying in different contexts. van Ravenzwaaij. but not a predictive one. & Thompson.. because it shows the bias is not a fixed cognitive default (see Nadarevic & Erdfelder. McNally & Jackson. Context: When a truth bias is and is not functional A truth bias is commonly observed in lie detection experiments (Bond & DePaulo. Although relatively little research has considered lie detection in highly diagnostic environments. . it makes good sense to use the generalized rule that a speaker is telling the truth. in the long run. ALIED explains how both individuating cues and more generalized cues are used in the judgment process. Kim. 2010). 2015).N. 2012. 1975. 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. 2010). it may be cognitively more effortful to make lie than truth judgments: “If a trigger. & Maydych. The context proviso is important: If the current context makes it more likely that people will lie. 2011. suggesting the lie bias can be fast and effortless (Hanks et al. 2003). Halevy et al. Until relatively recently the field has mostly explored lie–truth judgments in situations where the individuating cues are weak. Gigerenzer. rather than trying to push one approach over the other. Gilovich. 1975). 2011. A surprising result of this integration is that the truth bias. 1981). They report focusing on non-diagnostic information such as eye contact. Street & Richardson. We should also consider how judgments are made when highly diagnostic individuating cues are available. With the limited individuating cues available. I argue. a bias toward believing is functional: it will generally lead to the correct judgment (Jekel. First. & Pachur. 2011. Although a number of triggers are offered by the theory.jarmac. 2010. Levine (2014a). 2013. 2007). 2006. Individuating cues to deception are typically weak and have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al. 1992). & Kahneman. 1992. Koestner. . ALIED instead reinterprets past findings and develops novel predictions. When they are strong and highly informative.N.... because it takes a similar default position to that proposed by Gilbert (1991). The truth bias may be the result of using just such a simplified rule. As such. DePaulo & DePaulo. 3. then a lie bias is far more functional because. and that it is just as fast and efficient as truth-biased judgments (Richter et al. see also Garcia-Retamero & Rieskamp. This. http://dx. 2012). & Ramesh. it is more functional to make use of those cues to inform the judgment (see Bond et al. it is more likely to give higher accuracy rates than a truth-biased response.. Bond et al. see also Blair et al. It is not clear whether the account makes the cognitive difficulty prediction. When the individuating deception cues in the environment are uninformative. the list is non-exhaustive. Hogarth & Karelaia. Sporer & Schwandt.. And those who expect most speakers will lie to them. raters seem to attend to the more diagnostic ones. Arias. readily detectable liars). Zuckerman. Jussim. Griffin. but because liars do not show reliable signs of deception: Behavioral cues – verbal. This is not to undermine the importance of TDT: it is undoubtedly a useful framework that synthesizes decades of work. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). (2013) found that when the motive behind a given statement was known (a perfectly diagnostic cue). Levine. Sperber et al. & Wagenmakers. show a lie bias (Meissner & Kassin. accuracy was almost perfect.doi. 2002). ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. Raters usually need to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity in the environment to reach a judgment. Stiff. those few studies that used highly diagnostic individuating cues found that people can achieve near perfect accuracy (Bond. 1989.. this situation is rare. 2008. 2007). even though such a situation is rare (see Levine. Howard. people can achieve perfect accuracy. Habermas. paraverbal – are infrequent and have low diagnostic value (Sporer & Schwandt. People seem to have the wrong beliefs about what clues identify a liar (The Global Deception Research Team. the truth bias is only functional if most people tell the truth in the current context. the evidence is in accord with the ALIED proposal that people rely on generalized rules informed by their knowledge of the situation (Fiedler & Walka.. After all. 1984. 2014). 2006). Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx judgment can be made. 2010). Tuerlinckx. Sperber. & Blair. If the cognitive system defaulted to believing statements are truthful. see also Kim & Levine... It seems reasonable to assume that if the individuating cues to deception are perfectly diagnostic. 1990. It seems that we have arrived at a detailed descriptive theory of lie detection. Stephenson. Accuracy rates are likely so low not because of misguided beliefs then.. Street & Richardson. 2011). assuming the individuating cues are weak. and evidence is cognitively ¨ retrieved and/or sought to assess honesty-deceit(italics added). 2014.. informed by past experience with the situation. Perhaps one falsifiable claim that might be inferred from TDT is that. Levine et al. is reconceptualized as both functional and flexible. commonly thought of as an error. it allows (and maybe requires) that anything causing a lie judgment is defined as a trigger. But the assumption requires the following also to be true: (a) people attend to individuating cues. Levine et al. for overviews see Gigerenzer & Gaissmaier. . 2011. in the sense of both functional and flexible. Individuating cues For some time low accuracy was largely thought of as a knowledge problem (e. But there are two caveats to this functionality of the truth bias. & Masip. 2013). raters are biased toward judging statements as lies (Bond. & Driver. numerically quantifiable predictions that are yet to be tested. if context-general information suggests that others will lie. These rules allow people to reach ‘good enough’ judgments from limited information (Brunswik. Kim. It is important that a bias toward disbelieving can be observed early in the process. C. & Williamson. Serota et al. Mulder. 2013. Bröder. 2013. & von Hecker. 1996. 1952. More generally. 2010.. 2014. it is difficult to generate testable predictions.G Model JARMAC-182. For instance. 1993. Grice. 2005. 2013. 2009. 2014. How do people deal with probabilistic and low-diagnostic individuating information? In such uncertain situations. has limited the scope of theorizing in the area.org/10. The reason is that speakers typically tell the truth (DePaulo et al. 2007). No. is sufficiently potent. 2013. nonverbal. Richter et al. on the possibility of a few transparent. In summary. 3 Of course.. communication between people is useful only if both choose to deliver a message that is not false (Grice. Given this flexibility. Nunn. Hertwig. Hutchison. such as police officers (Moston.g. Glöckner. see also Masip & Herrero. it is functional to have a context-based bias if the individuating cues to deception are weak or lacking. Millar & Millar. which was thought to explain their inaccuracy.1016/j. Vrij & Semin. 4. Malloy. (b) they can identify cues that are diagnostic and can separate them from the nondiagnostic cues.06.2015. 2002). The second caveat to the functionality of the truth bias is that. 1997. 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. Meiser. raters are more prepared to infer others are lying (Bond et al. This can be seen even from the earliest moments of consideration. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. When the situation makes it difficult for speakers to tell the truth. 2003. Simon. . The possibility that the bias is a fixed cognitive default is considered further in Please cite this article in press as: Street. 2014). The bias must reflect the current context if it is to be adaptive. ALIED offers a number of novel. 2013. In this sense. 2009. 2009.002 . and (c) they rely more on the individuating information than on the context-general information to make their judgment.

& Stahl.002 . in certain contexts it may take more effort to believe what others say is true. 2015). & Rocher. 19973 . 2014. uncertain behavior of others to fill in on missing pieces of information (Higgins. Unkelbach. in situations where there is a large scope for uncertainty).N. 2007. McCornack & Levine. 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. see also Reinhard & Sporer. & Mack. 2015). For example.org/10. Street & Richardson. Robinson. people make a similar proportion of lie judgments when under cognitive load than when there is no load (Millar & Millar. see also Barbey & Sloman. 2014. children as young as 4 years make use of it instead of showing a blanket bias to believe or disbelieve (Brosseau-Liard & Birch. 1995. It claims that people have no choice but to believe what others say is true. Please cite this article in press as: Street. 2002). see also Mitchell... 2008. 2009. 2007).. 2010.4% more lie judgments under high load than low load. They use simple generalized rules to decide what to believe. 2010. Biased responding seems to be adaptive and flexible. Kruglanski. 1990). Kim. Such a strong position is hard to defend. Street & Richardson. Huette. But raters who could explicitly indicate they were unsure showed a reduced truth bias. http://dx. KordtsFreudinger. Bayer. 2004). see also Woolley & Ghossainy. & Jones. But when there is more individuating information available. 1994).. Koch. characters committing a good or bad act are judged as truth-tellers and liars. 2014a) accounts have proposed the truth bias reflects a default belief. For simplicity. but other available sources of generalized information could take its place. Kruglanski et al.N. for similar findings without a suspicion manipulation). 1980. Schul. base rates provide a useful overview of the current situation. & Birch. they rapidly activate knowledge that is incongruent with the content of the speaker’s message (Schul et al. Levine & McCornack. if the context suggests statements are truthful. Tanenhaus.1016/j. & Spivey. The ‘Spinozan’ account (Gilbert. 2014. Koehler. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx Section 6. Stiff et al. Kelley. 2015). 2014.. 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. 1991.. time or effort to override the default? Both long-standing (Gilbert. people can rely on other information such as meta-cognitive feelings of familiarity (Skurnik. Cassels.. 1980.. 1991. of Pages 9 4 C. For instance. 2002.g.g. Mandelbaum. for an argument in support of the Spinozan position). 1997. 1996. Robinson.. 2005.G Model ARTICLE IN PRESS JARMAC-182. respondents made 7. Robinson et al. although see Mandelbaum. see also Clément et al. 1950. Lane & Harris. 1971). this article refers to context-based information. People are more likely to make lie judgments when made suspicious than when they are not suspicious (e. Similarly. 1992. in contrast to default theories. & Isaacs. see also Schwarz. at first. 1987. However. 2013. 2014) takes a strong default position. Similarly. 2004). and has been criticized both empirically and conceptually (e. 2015a). But if more diagnostic individuating information is available. And when made suspicious. Toris & DePaulo. & Strack. & Runner. A standardized effect size was not reported. Subbotsky. this is not an all-encompassing. 6. 2015a. & Spencer. 5. 2011. If the context information has faded from memory. 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..g. Davies. 2010. When more individuating information is available. This is because people would no longer need to make an ‘educated guess’ to cope with the environmental uncertainty.. & Chun. Van Swol. 1991. Gawronski. Gunlogson. Truth-default theory (TDT: Levine.06.2015.jarmac. see also Anderson. 2007.e. C. 2014. for similar findings in impression formation research). But as the individuating information becomes less diagnostic participants switch to using more generalized base-rate information (Ginossar & Trope.. People do rely on oversimplified rules to interpret the ambiguous. and when people are made to feel distrustful. they should rely more on context when the individuating cues have low diagnosticity. Woolley & Ghossainy. 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. Widmeyer & Loy. 2010. & Harris. 1990.. but this difference was not statistically significant. Adams. Koenig. see also Reyes-Jaquez & Echols. Pierro. 2008). Dodd & Bradshaw. and where the statements are uninformative (i. Street & Richardson. Erb. 1990. 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. Diamond. Morison & Gardner.. Ma & Ganea. Mitchell & Nye. 2014). Kahn. even when cognitive resources are limited by means of a cognitive load (Millar & Millar. 2004. 2013. 2005). 1990). Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). Nadarevic and Erdfelder (2013) suggest the evidence supporting the Spinozan account is limited to situations where people have no background knowledge. Mannetti. then truth 3 In their sample. truth-biased responders do not require additional cognitive effort or more processing time to consider the possibility of deception (Richter et al. unintentional. Brosseau-Liard. 2014a. ever-present naivety to believe everything (see Clément. 2009. the current context is not the only way to make informed judgments when unsure. 2009. 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. & Burnstein. 1980. Leyens. Rholes. raters who were forced to make a lie–truth judgment showed a truth bias. 2014. The same strategies can be observed in young children who are still developing executive control (De Luca & Leventer. & Lyon. Mandelbaum. These findings suggest there need not be greater cognitive resources available to disbelieve others’ statements (Hasson et al. Lick & Johnson. 1977. In fact. 2014. 1978) and recent (Levine. Alves. No. 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. and reflects an understanding of the current context2 . Thus it seems context-relevant knowledge is being used to compensate for the absence of more immediately available diagnostic evidence (Bar-Hillel. So it is not always more cognitively taxing to disbelieve. That is. 1997). No amount of effort can prevent the initial truth belief (Gilbert et al. 1995). there is evidence that negating a statement (e. and effortless (Deutsch. Quas. there is less reliance on generalized stereotypic knowledge (Kunda. Put another way. Matlock. 1988). ‘the eagle is in the sky’) can be faster. for evidence in the psycholinguistic literature). respectively (Wandrey. raters make relatively little use of the base rates. suggesting the bias reflects a guess to deal with uncertainty. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. Street and Richardson (2015a) argued for just such a view of lie detection. Rye. 2014). Dang. Although this guessing bias is consistent with ALIED. In their study. 2004. as a default account would claim. it is also consistent with another default account that makes more conservative claims.doi. Park & Schwarz. Although they will often show a bias to believe others (e. Integrating individuating cues with context As well as being flexible to context. Mayo. Yoon.g.. see Skowronski & Carlston. Schadron. 2012. 1985). Only afterwards can the initial belief be re-evaluated. Yzerbyt. ‘the eagle is not in the sky’) compared to affirming a statement (e.g.

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

is to provide a process-oriented foundation from which to begin addressing how best to detect deception.G Model JARMAC-182. & Anderson. sparked a rush to application. we need a theory that can explain if and when different types of context-general cues are used. Most organizations are concerned with effective and unbiased decision-making. This generalized knowledge will be adaptive in the long run. using effective questioning methods to probe the statement (Levine. Speculatively. more compatible with what one believes. 2015). This might mean amplifying behavioral cues (Vrij & Granhag. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015).2015. rather than making a forced choice. developmental. This has implications beyond the domains of detecting deception. In their absence.org/10.1016/j. 2012). and judgment and decision-making research. cited by Reinhard & Sporer. Buller & Burgoon. It is important to note that salience can be functional and lead to informed judgments. 2012. (ii) how raters try to make the lie–truth judgment. rather than forcing them into making a lie or truth judgment. This fact.g. Duran. 2012). 2010). Future work is required to test this speculation. 2015. Hypothetically. 1980. Platzer & Bröder. 1991.. 2012). Gilbert. is the result of an attempt to make accurate judgments by relying on informed but generalized strategies. improves their recall accuracy (Koriat & Goldsmith. One of the most important contributions of the ALIED account. and more internally coherent with other available information. Kraut. Clearly then. 2014. 2012. 2014b). then.jarmac. A more problematic limitation is that ALIED does not propose how people select or integrate various types of context-general cues. the more likely that information is to be supported by other evidence. Street & Richardson. are given more credence and so more weighting in the judgment (see Nisbett & Ross. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. Thus salient. it may be that the speakers’ behaviors. the theoretical account offered here stands in sharp contrast to the long-held view that lie detectors are error-prone (e. Dechêne. only one component of the lie detection process. 2015. They can vary from social rules (O’Sullivan. and it may be fruitful to integrate those findings into the ALIED account.g. By gaining a further understanding of how and why people lie. it may be that people integrate their context-general beliefs about. say. 2015b). 2006). & Reinhard.. if we are to improve lie detection accuracy we must increase the diagnosticity of individuating cues. Kello. social. and by exploring how behavior unfolds. Hansen. & McCornack.. base rates (Park & Levine. 2015). For instance. the base rate of honesty with other context-general cues (e. It is an adaptive strategy to rely on more generalized context-general information when more individuating cues have low diagnosticity. 1996). and if they are all integrated into the judgment or if people select only a small set of the available cues. A very simple way to do this is to give people the explicit option of saying “unsure”. 1993. Vrij & Granhag. The Global Deception Research Team. 2010. But some work in the memory domain finds that allowing people to indicate they are uncertain. 1999).N. 2001.g.06. the word ‘bias’ unfortunately implies an erroneous imbalance that must be corrected (see Street & Masip. 1990).’s (2013) findings is of course mere speculation. coupled with the obvious applications to. Fiedler. 1993. Indeed.. 2015a). before the speaker has even begun to deliver a statement). 2015). But despite this benefit. 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. but in individual instances it may lead to incorrect judgments. or giving further information about the motives and incentives behind the statement (Bond et al. But before trying to remove biases from lie–truth judgments. Street & Richardson.. 2006) show people do not always make the most accurate judgments. the bias has been shown to reduce or disappear (Street & Kingstone. lie detection accuracy is only marginally above chance (Bond & DePaulo. 2011). 9. say. This does not seem very adaptive or functional. suspicion) in the current environment (see Street & Richardson. but it is consistent with previous findings and shows how even salience can be relied upon to make an informed choice (Schwarz. the police force and military investigations. The account does not make any claims as to how people select or integrate multiple diagnostic individuating cues. the consistently low accuracy rates (Bond & DePaulo. Greifeneder. & Wilson. people must be encouraged to acknowledge the uncertainty in the environment and then abstain from judgment. 2006. By integrating across cognitive.doi.. To attain reliable accuracy rates. and metacognition is likely to play an important role here (see Ask et al. Street & Richardson.002 . 2007). remaining agnostic. Levine. for consideration of this possibility). 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. 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. This has largely been lacking in theory (Köhnken. easily processed information can often act as a useful proxy to guide truth judgments (Ask. Dale. In line with current thinking. Van Der Zee. personal relationships (McCornack & Levine. Given that manipulations of generalized suspicion and other manipulations sometimes only reduce the truth bias rather than result in a lie bias (e. To reliably improve lie detection in applied settings. 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. rather. This places a limit on the explanatory power of the account. if there were no diagnostic individuating cues available (e. Park. Reducing judgmental biases may mean paying attention to when there are few or no diagnostic individuating cues available and refraining from making a guess. amongst others.. 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. Schwarz & Clore. This account of Bond et al. Street and Richardson (2015b) argue saliency may be the key to explaining why accuracy improves when using the indirect lie detection method. and (iii) where that judgment process goes wrong. being more salient than abstracted incentive information. This may be easier said than done. we must understand (i) the processes underlying how and why people deceive. 2000. Schwarz’s (2015) ‘Big Five’ criteria shows that the easier it is to process some information. Schuetzler. Schwarz. and to encourage the field to explore lie detection from a process-oriented perspective. Stahl. Reber & Schwarz.. 1980). Street. ALIED argues the truth bias. Practical application As is widely known in the community. 2015. Miller & Stiff. 2013. we must first ask whether we ought to remove judgmental biases at all. 1992). Taylor. 1996. 2003). 2012). Finally. No. Blair et al. C.g. Please cite this article in press as: Street. 2014) and even emotion and affect (Shackman et al. Poppe. the account places focus on how people can make adaptive judgments when individuating cues are absent or lacking diagnosticity. This has drastic implications for how the field should progress. 2013. Instead. & Wänke. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. 1990.N. It does not necessarily follow that less biased judgments will be more accurate judgments (Jussim. 2010. http://dx. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx 6 directly to the veracity of the given statement. Miller & Stiff. When this option is available. I still believe we must rid ourselves of the truth bias. & Richardson. 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. 1999.

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. and that it is not always cognitively more difficult to make a lie rather than a truth judgment.. and social services. DePaulo. P. Epistemic states and traits: Preschoolers appreciate the differential informativeness of situation-specific and personspecific cues to knowledge. 1788–1796. IL: University of Chicago Press. & Strack.. Bond. K.. 238–257. 12(1). New York. In D. D. but they are nonetheless functional. (2011). M. (2002).). Hogarth (Ed. (1980). Chicago. C. New York. V. C. DePaulo. T. T. T. D. References Asch. Can deception by salespersons and customers be detected through nonverbal behavioural cues? Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 3–21). C. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. (1952). 779–784. (1956). H. M. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. leisure centres and office space—with mobile courts that change their location over time” (Chambers. The ALIED account proposes jurors and judges should be instructed that. 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Malloy. 7 Conflict of interest statement The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Child Development. B. Levine. NY: Oxford University Press. Human Communication Research. Dechêne. (1996). A. Communication Theory. ALIED argues there is no cognitive defaulting toward believing others. You seem certain but you were wrong before: Developmental change in preschoolers’ relative trust in accurate versus confident speakers.. Because judges and jurors in many countries are explicitly expected to incorporate credibility into their interpretation of the evidence. & Wänke. Chambers. Bar-Hillel. Meaning. 383–416). it is argued these biases appear in the research because more diagnostic individuating cues are absent (see Bond et al. Content in context improves deception detection accuracy.. & R.N. A. K. Paril. 466–503). D. Communication Reports. Bond. might interviewing a suspect or witness in the back of a police car lead to more guilt-presumptive questioning and expectations of deception.). B.. 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. and Walter Bischof and Ben Vincent for their discussions.. McLeod. 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. (1996). M. context-general information is liable to play a relatively large role. E. R. Burgoon. (2007). This system has remained relatively unchanged since its inception over 700 years ago.. (2009). In R. 39(1). IL: The University of Chicago Press. Barbey.. S. No. M. 434–446. 9–19. Deutsch. 1–70. 200–216). M. J. and biochemistry. 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