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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

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

commonly thought of as an error. assuming the individuating cues are weak. Jussim. 2003. Meiser.. Hutchison. 2007). . The context proviso is important: If the current context makes it more likely that people will lie. 2005. These rules allow people to reach ‘good enough’ judgments from limited information (Brunswik. this situation is rare. it is difficult to generate testable predictions. it is more functional to make use of those cues to inform the judgment (see Bond et al. It seems reasonable to assume that if the individuating cues to deception are perfectly diagnostic. Levine et al. When they are strong and highly informative..N. Serota et al. 2012). and evidence is cognitively ¨ retrieved and/or sought to assess honesty-deceit(italics added). 1952. Sattler. 2002). http://dx. & Masip. it is more likely to give higher accuracy rates than a truth-biased response. 2011. the truth bias is only functional if most people tell the truth in the current context. DePaulo & DePaulo. Grice. 2011. in the sense of both functional and flexible. 2012. They report focusing on non-diagnostic information such as eye contact. 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.jarmac. those few studies that used highly diagnostic individuating cues found that people can achieve near perfect accuracy (Bond.. Strömwall & Granhag. The second caveat to the functionality of the truth bias is that.002 . Although a number of triggers are offered by the theory. C.1016/j. 2010. but not a predictive one. For instance. 2011). Individuating cues For some time low accuracy was largely thought of as a knowledge problem (e. 2007). But the assumption requires the following also to be true: (a) people attend to individuating cues. 2014. Griffin. is sufficiently potent. 1990. because it shows the bias is not a fixed cognitive default (see Nadarevic & Erdfelder.. Mulder. Gigerenzer.doi.. Kim. We should also consider how judgments are made when highly diagnostic individuating cues are available.. the list is non-exhaustive. 2010). Howard. 1993. has limited the scope of theorizing in the area. 2013. This can be seen even from the earliest moments of consideration. It is not clear whether the account makes the cognitive difficulty prediction. a bias toward believing is functional: it will generally lead to the correct judgment (Jekel. such as police officers (Moston. accuracy was almost perfect. raters are more prepared to infer others are lying (Bond et al. 2013. the evidence is in accord with the ALIED proposal that people rely on generalized rules informed by their knowledge of the situation (Fiedler & Walka.. it is functional to have a context-based bias if the individuating cues to deception are weak or lacking. 2003).G Model JARMAC-182. Levine et al. As such.2015. 3 Of course. paraverbal – are infrequent and have low diagnostic value (Sporer & Schwandt. 2010). 2010). A surprising result of this integration is that the truth bias. see also Blair et al. People seem to have the wrong beliefs about what clues identify a liar (The Global Deception Research Team. it makes good sense to use the generalized rule that a speaker is telling the truth.N. Bröder. . This. 2013). ALIED instead reinterprets past findings and develops novel predictions. Individuating cues to deception are typically weak and have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al. Malloy.. 2011. First. in the long run. 4. Halevy et al. readily detectable liars). How do people deal with probabilistic and low-diagnostic individuating information? In such uncertain situations. & Wagenmakers.. The bias must reflect the current context if it is to be adaptive. After all. see also Kim & Levine.g. Hertwig. on the possibility of a few transparent. show a lie bias (Meissner & Kassin. communication between people is useful only if both choose to deliver a message that is not false (Grice. and that it is just as fast and efficient as truth-biased judgments (Richter et al. a threshold is crossed. Koestner. we would not expect to see such rapid and effortless biases toward lying in different contexts. & Blair. Simon. 2006). nonverbal. Levine (2014a). because it takes a similar default position to that proposed by Gilbert (1991). & Ramesh. Sperber. 2006. Habermas. 2006). 1984. When the situation makes it difficult for speakers to tell the truth. Levine. Richter et al. 2014). ALIED explains how both individuating cues and more generalized cues are used in the judgment process. see also Garcia-Retamero & Rieskamp. 2008. 1996. people can achieve perfect accuracy. 1981).org/10. But there are two caveats to this functionality of the truth bias. Arias.. Stephenson. 2013. When the individuating deception cues in the environment are uninformative.. 2013. 3. 1975). Tuerlinckx. Accuracy rates are likely so low not because of misguided beliefs then. Street & Richardson. The reason is that speakers typically tell the truth (DePaulo et al. . 1996. even though such a situation is rare (see Levine. which was thought to explain their inaccuracy. 2002). In this sense. rather than trying to push one approach over the other. and (c) they rely more on the individuating information than on the context-general information to make their judgment. but because liars do not show reliable signs of deception: Behavioral cues – verbal. 2009. raters seem to attend to the more diagnostic ones. & Williamson. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). Street & Richardson. 2013. With the limited individuating cues available. 2014. Bond et al. Stiff. (2013) found that when the motive behind a given statement was known (a perfectly diagnostic cue). Perhaps one falsifiable claim that might be inferred from TDT is that. 1989. Millar & Millar. Given this flexibility. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx judgment can be made. 2010. informed by past experience with the situation. Zuckerman. The truth bias may be the result of using just such a simplified rule. The possibility that the bias is a fixed cognitive default is considered further in Please cite this article in press as: Street. Glöckner. 1975.06. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C. More generally.. 2014). Gilovich. No. I argue. If the cognitive system defaulted to believing statements are truthful. Sporer & Schwandt. 2014. see also Masip & Herrero. 2011. 2009. It seems that we have arrived at a detailed descriptive theory of lie detection. It is important that a bias toward disbelieving can be observed early in the process. This is not to undermine the importance of TDT: it is undoubtedly a useful framework that synthesizes decades of work. 2013. 1997. van Ravenzwaaij. (b) they can identify cues that are diagnostic and can separate them from the nondiagnostic cues. In summary. & Maydych. it may be cognitively more effortful to make lie than truth judgments: “If a trigger. 1992). Sperber et al. Context: When a truth bias is and is not functional A truth bias is commonly observed in lie detection experiments (Bond & DePaulo. . ALIED offers a number of novel. & Pachur. is reconceptualized as both functional and flexible. numerically quantifiable predictions that are yet to be tested. if context-general information suggests that others will lie. 1992. for overviews see Gigerenzer & Gaissmaier. raters are biased toward judging statements as lies (Bond. Hogarth & Karelaia. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. McNally & Jackson. Nunn. & Kahneman. it allows (and maybe requires) that anything causing a lie judgment is defined as a trigger. Until relatively recently the field has mostly explored lie–truth judgments in situations where the individuating cues are weak. & Thompson. suggesting the lie bias can be fast and effortless (Hanks et al. & von Hecker.. Vrij & Semin.. & Driver. 2015). And those who expect most speakers will lie to them. Raters usually need to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity in the environment to reach a judgment. 2007). 2009. Kim. then a lie bias is far more functional because. 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. Although relatively little research has considered lie detection in highly diagnostic environments.

Robinson. Lane & Harris. this article refers to context-based information.2015. & Birch. If the context information has faded from memory.. Erb. they rapidly activate knowledge that is incongruent with the content of the speaker’s message (Schul et al. 2009. 1988). 2005. People do rely on oversimplified rules to interpret the ambiguous.N. in contrast to default theories. Biased responding seems to be adaptive and flexible. This is because people would no longer need to make an ‘educated guess’ to cope with the environmental uncertainty. children as young as 4 years make use of it instead of showing a blanket bias to believe or disbelieve (Brosseau-Liard & Birch.. Quas.. Matlock. 1980. for an argument in support of the Spinozan position). 1990). And when made suspicious. people make a similar proportion of lie judgments when under cognitive load than when there is no load (Millar & Millar. 1992. for similar findings in impression formation research). & Strack. 2004. Truth-default theory (TDT: Levine.. http://dx. if the context suggests statements are truthful. & Harris.g. Pierro. 2008). But raters who could explicitly indicate they were unsure showed a reduced truth bias. 2002). 1990. Integrating individuating cues with context As well as being flexible to context. Adams. Leyens.org/10. 2014). Toris & DePaulo. 1950. in certain contexts it may take more effort to believe what others say is true. Subbotsky. However. 1995. 1991. 1978) and recent (Levine. 2012. Only afterwards can the initial belief be re-evaluated. Yoon. ‘the eagle is not in the sky’) compared to affirming a statement (e. 2013. but other available sources of generalized information could take its place.. people can rely on other information such as meta-cognitive feelings of familiarity (Skurnik. 2015a). 5. 2010. see also Anderson. Kruglanski et al. 1995). Although they will often show a bias to believe others (e. 1980. 2008. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx Section 6. time or effort to override the default? Both long-standing (Gilbert. 2014. Brosseau-Liard.. there is evidence that negating a statement (e.g.g. 2015). Kahn. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). 1990. Similarly. truth-biased responders do not require additional cognitive effort or more processing time to consider the possibility of deception (Richter et al. 1997). ‘the eagle is in the sky’) can be faster. then truth 3 In their sample. and has been criticized both empirically and conceptually (e. & Mack. Mitchell & Nye. 2015a. Lick & Johnson. 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.N. 1971). Street & Richardson. and when people are made to feel distrustful. Tanenhaus. Woolley & Ghossainy. see Skowronski & Carlston. 19973 . These findings suggest there need not be greater cognitive resources available to disbelieve others’ statements (Hasson et al. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. 2002. Huette. ever-present naivety to believe everything (see Clément.4% more lie judgments under high load than low load. see also Schwarz. 2014. People are more likely to make lie judgments when made suspicious than when they are not suspicious (e. 2015). 2007. base rates provide a useful overview of the current situation.g. Such a strong position is hard to defend. but this difference was not statistically significant. & Rocher. characters committing a good or bad act are judged as truth-tellers and liars. Kim. Mannetti. Mayo. No. A standardized effect size was not reported.G Model ARTICLE IN PRESS JARMAC-182. 2014) takes a strong default position. Please cite this article in press as: Street. Thus it seems context-relevant knowledge is being used to compensate for the absence of more immediately available diagnostic evidence (Bar-Hillel. unintentional. 2005). uncertain behavior of others to fill in on missing pieces of information (Higgins. see also Reinhard & Sporer. Nadarevic and Erdfelder (2013) suggest the evidence supporting the Spinozan account is limited to situations where people have no background knowledge. in situations where there is a large scope for uncertainty). they should rely more on context when the individuating cues have low diagnosticity. Schul. & Chun. raters who were forced to make a lie–truth judgment showed a truth bias. C. 1980. Mandelbaum.. Koch. suggesting the bias reflects a guess to deal with uncertainty. Levine & McCornack. Widmeyer & Loy. Put another way. although see Mandelbaum.. The ‘Spinozan’ account (Gilbert.06. Dodd & Bradshaw. 2013. Similarly. 1990). see also Barbey & Sloman. KordtsFreudinger. Koenig. this is not an all-encompassing. Cassels. Stiff et al. and where the statements are uninformative (i. even when cognitive resources are limited by means of a cognitive load (Millar & Millar. 2010. 1996. respectively (Wandrey..g. for similar findings without a suspicion manipulation). In fact. 2011. Street & Richardson. 2004. 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. at first. 2014a) accounts have proposed the truth bias reflects a default belief. Street and Richardson (2015a) argued for just such a view of lie detection. For simplicity. 2014. and reflects an understanding of the current context2 . McCornack & Levine. Davies. They use simple generalized rules to decide what to believe. But if more diagnostic individuating information is available.. 2014. & Jones. 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.doi. The same strategies can be observed in young children who are still developing executive control (De Luca & Leventer. 1994). 2004).. 6. For example. 1985).. It claims that people have no choice but to believe what others say is true. & Runner. 1987. respondents made 7. raters make relatively little use of the base rates. 2015).jarmac. Park & Schwarz. So it is not always more cognitively taxing to disbelieve. In their study. 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. & Isaacs. Gunlogson. see also Reyes-Jaquez & Echols. 2009. Alves. Rye. Yzerbyt. 2014. & Spivey. Street & Richardson. But as the individuating information becomes less diagnostic participants switch to using more generalized base-rate information (Ginossar & Trope. see also Woolley & Ghossainy. Robinson et al. 2007).. Although this guessing bias is consistent with ALIED.1016/j. 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. Diamond. 2004). & Stahl. Mandelbaum. Kruglanski. But when there is more individuating information available.002 . Rholes. for evidence in the psycholinguistic literature).e. 2010. 2014). see also Mitchell. 2007. Bayer. For instance. Ma & Ganea. 2009.. of Pages 9 4 C. it is also consistent with another default account that makes more conservative claims.. Schadron. When more individuating information is available. 1991. as a default account would claim. 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. see also Clément et al. & Lyon. the current context is not the only way to make informed judgments when unsure. Morison & Gardner. That is. Robinson. and effortless (Deutsch. 2010. 2014. there is less reliance on generalized stereotypic knowledge (Kunda. Unkelbach. 1997. Kelley. & Spencer. 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. 1991. Dang. 2014. Gawronski. 1977. 2014a. Koehler. Van Swol. & Burnstein. No amount of effort can prevent the initial truth belief (Gilbert et al.

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

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

. In F. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. New York.. E. & Shaw. 7 Conflict of interest statement The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. (2014). Bond. S. R. T. 214–234. Instead. Executive functions and the frontal lobes: A lifespan perspective (pp. A. 1552–1577. This will ultimately exhibit itself as a truth or lie bias.. F. In all these cases. S. M.. 82(6). Cues to deception. In D. Lying in everyday life. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.. A. (1989).). De Luca. and when deciding to believe their allegations or claimed identity. Principles of frontal lobe function (pp. V. C. Content in context improves deception detection accuracy. to be aware of the basis of their judgment—whether it is the result of individuating cues or context-general cues. J. K. Wyer.. In P. P.org/10.2015. Levine et al. They have a magistrate system where lay members of the community act as volunteer judges on more minor offences such as theft. adaptive strategies to deal with the ever-changing state of the world. 19. J. R. Studies of independence and conformity: I. 360–379. & Reinhard. We have long known that there is no reliable indicator to deception.). K. 79–995..N.. J.1016/j. C... and that it is not always cognitively more difficult to make a lie rather than a truth judgment. & Davis. L. & Masip. T. DePaulo. 238–257.. Burgoon. then. A. T. Overlooking the obvious: Incentives to lie.. McLeod.jarmac. 12(1). A. Lie-biased decision making in prison. Personality and Social Psychology Review. & Sloman. 44. On the ease of (dis)believing: The role of accessibility experiences in credibility judgments. Greifeneder. Interpersonal deception theory. Nunn. 2013. Brunswik. D. form & body (pp. & Spivey. Child Development. but they are nonetheless functional. Stuss. (2008).. Huette. Human Communication Research. DC: Taylor & Francis. it is argued these biases appear in the research because more diagnostic individuating cues are absent (see Bond et al. Anderson. 434–446. V.).. And online forum users must protect themselves from potential identity fraud when giving their details out to supposed online friends. Principles of frontal lobe function (pp. and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Asp. M. S. & Wilson..doi. Tobin. Applied Cognitive Psychology. Base-rate respect: From ecological rationality to dual processes. Acta Psychologica. The base-rate fallacy in probability judgments. 30. M. This system has remained relatively unchanged since its inception over 700 years ago. Howard. PLoS ONE.. Bond. P.. (1956). Stanford.. D. & Leventer. Lindsay. C. K. if they must incorporate credibility. (2012). Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). 74–118.. M. Fast and fragile: A new look at the automaticity of negation processing. J. In D. (2004). E. 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This is a particularly pressing issue in England and Wales presently. 35. L. A. IL: University of Chicago Press. M. 1–24. 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.. So in many circumstances. M. 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. D. 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. P. (2014). Clément. Bar-Hillel. leisure centres and office space—with mobile courts that change their location over time” (Chambers.. 39(1). Please cite this article in press as: Street. & R. Charlton. Anderson. Deutsch. J. Normal development of prefrontal cortex from birth to young adulthood: Cognitive functions. and that individuating cues typically have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al. M. 6(3). (2005). context-general information is liable to play a relatively large role. Acknowledgements I would like to acknowledge Daniel C. 9–19. False tagging theory: Toward a unitary account of prefrontal cortex function. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied. S. (2009).. F. and Walter Bischof and Ben Vincent for their discussions. Kordts-Freudinger. & Davis. B. & Birch. J. anatomy.N. NY: Oxford University Press. 56(6). (2003).. Accuracy of deception judgments.. A think tank recommendation is to create ‘mobile courts’. A. Turner (Eds. Because judges and jurors in many countries are explicitly expected to incorporate credibility into their interpretation of the evidence. R. E. & DePaulo.G Model JARMAC-182.uk/ publications/category/item/future-courts-a-new-vision-for-summary-justice. 10(3). M. K.. 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