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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

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

those few studies that used highly diagnostic individuating cues found that people can achieve near perfect accuracy (Bond. 2002). Mulder. 2014. Sperber. 2011. With the limited individuating cues available. Halevy et al. Raters usually need to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity in the environment to reach a judgment. 2013. . ALIED instead reinterprets past findings and develops novel predictions.. nonverbal. (b) they can identify cues that are diagnostic and can separate them from the nondiagnostic cues. DePaulo & DePaulo.org/10. raters are biased toward judging statements as lies (Bond. Street & Richardson. informed by past experience with the situation. has limited the scope of theorizing in the area. 2013). & Driver. This. 2013. Bond et al. Vrij & Semin.. 2011. Although relatively little research has considered lie detection in highly diagnostic environments. 2013. van Ravenzwaaij. and that it is just as fast and efficient as truth-biased judgments (Richter et al. The possibility that the bias is a fixed cognitive default is considered further in Please cite this article in press as: Street. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx judgment can be made.doi. 4. & Pachur. 2013. Sporer & Schwandt. The bias must reflect the current context if it is to be adaptive. Although a number of triggers are offered by the theory. suggesting the lie bias can be fast and effortless (Hanks et al. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C.N. The reason is that speakers typically tell the truth (DePaulo et al. Hutchison.. I argue. 1993. Malloy. see also Masip & Herrero. 2013. How do people deal with probabilistic and low-diagnostic individuating information? In such uncertain situations. If the cognitive system defaulted to believing statements are truthful.. & von Hecker. communication between people is useful only if both choose to deliver a message that is not false (Grice. & Wagenmakers. When they are strong and highly informative. 2011). 2008. Perhaps one falsifiable claim that might be inferred from TDT is that. 1996. More generally. 2010). Stephenson. Levine. Millar & Millar. the list is non-exhaustive. see also Garcia-Retamero & Rieskamp. We should also consider how judgments are made when highly diagnostic individuating cues are available. it allows (and maybe requires) that anything causing a lie judgment is defined as a trigger. A surprising result of this integration is that the truth bias. Jussim. if context-general information suggests that others will lie. & Kahneman. The truth bias may be the result of using just such a simplified rule. Context: When a truth bias is and is not functional A truth bias is commonly observed in lie detection experiments (Bond & DePaulo. 2006). & Blair. Serota et al. commonly thought of as an error. it is difficult to generate testable predictions.. & Thompson. Hogarth & Karelaia. Street & Richardson. And those who expect most speakers will lie to them. see also Blair et al. we would not expect to see such rapid and effortless biases toward lying in different contexts. it is functional to have a context-based bias if the individuating cues to deception are weak or lacking. 2010. 2005. is reconceptualized as both functional and flexible.. & Masip. in the sense of both functional and flexible. These rules allow people to reach ‘good enough’ judgments from limited information (Brunswik. 1997. rather than trying to push one approach over the other. Nunn. because it shows the bias is not a fixed cognitive default (see Nadarevic & Erdfelder. Gilovich. & Ramesh. C. Koestner. Individuating cues For some time low accuracy was largely thought of as a knowledge problem (e. 2015). Meiser. 2003). 2009. ALIED offers a number of novel. Levine (2014a).. . 2002). Stiff. Tuerlinckx. because it takes a similar default position to that proposed by Gilbert (1991). Habermas. 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. 1989. 1975. numerically quantifiable predictions that are yet to be tested.. 1975). 2012). As such. 1992). paraverbal – are infrequent and have low diagnostic value (Sporer & Schwandt. But there are two caveats to this functionality of the truth bias. 1984. McNally & Jackson. Levine et al. No. Richter et al. The second caveat to the functionality of the truth bias is that. this situation is rare. show a lie bias (Meissner & Kassin. even though such a situation is rare (see Levine. & Williamson. raters seem to attend to the more diagnostic ones. 2007). 2013. Zuckerman. for overviews see Gigerenzer & Gaissmaier. In summary. Strömwall & Granhag. Hertwig. Accuracy rates are likely so low not because of misguided beliefs then. but not a predictive one. such as police officers (Moston. in the long run. it makes good sense to use the generalized rule that a speaker is telling the truth.jarmac.. When the individuating deception cues in the environment are uninformative. 1996. 2012.G Model JARMAC-182. a threshold is crossed. For instance. it is more likely to give higher accuracy rates than a truth-biased response. and (c) they rely more on the individuating information than on the context-general information to make their judgment. 1992. which was thought to explain their inaccuracy. It is not clear whether the account makes the cognitive difficulty prediction. Grice. It seems that we have arrived at a detailed descriptive theory of lie detection. is sufficiently potent. it is more functional to make use of those cues to inform the judgment (see Bond et al. readily detectable liars). 1990. 2003. & Maydych. 1952. First. 3. but because liars do not show reliable signs of deception: Behavioral cues – verbal.. 2010). Gigerenzer. 2014). Howard. Simon. people can achieve perfect accuracy. then a lie bias is far more functional because. 1981).. 2010). 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. the evidence is in accord with the ALIED proposal that people rely on generalized rules informed by their knowledge of the situation (Fiedler & Walka. . Bröder. But the assumption requires the following also to be true: (a) people attend to individuating cues. 2007). on the possibility of a few transparent.1016/j. Levine et al. 2014. 2014. Kim. Until relatively recently the field has mostly explored lie–truth judgments in situations where the individuating cues are weak. It is important that a bias toward disbelieving can be observed early in the process. Kim. People seem to have the wrong beliefs about what clues identify a liar (The Global Deception Research Team. 2011. . 2009. and evidence is cognitively ¨ retrieved and/or sought to assess honesty-deceit(italics added). raters are more prepared to infer others are lying (Bond et al. it may be cognitively more effortful to make lie than truth judgments: “If a trigger. 2009. (2013) found that when the motive behind a given statement was known (a perfectly diagnostic cue). In this sense. It seems reasonable to assume that if the individuating cues to deception are perfectly diagnostic. 2006). This is not to undermine the importance of TDT: it is undoubtedly a useful framework that synthesizes decades of work. 2011. 2007). 3 Of course. When the situation makes it difficult for speakers to tell the truth. assuming the individuating cues are weak. Individuating cues to deception are typically weak and have low diagnosticity (DePaulo et al. Sperber et al.N. Arias. accuracy was almost perfect. ALIED explains how both individuating cues and more generalized cues are used in the judgment process. Griffin. see also Kim & Levine.. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. Given this flexibility. Sattler.. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015).g.. a bias toward believing is functional: it will generally lead to the correct judgment (Jekel. The context proviso is important: If the current context makes it more likely that people will lie. http://dx. Glöckner. After all. They report focusing on non-diagnostic information such as eye contact.002 . 2010. 2014). 2006.2015. This can be seen even from the earliest moments of consideration.06. the truth bias is only functional if most people tell the truth in the current context.

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

When highly diagnostic cues are available. Put simply. the ALIED position encapsulates default theories by claiming that the support for default theories is the result of a fixed truth-suggestive context. context-general information should have less of an influence on the decision process. This trade-off should be easily simulated with a linear model. it would be difficult for ALIED to explain a positive relationship between the use context-general and individuating information. not increase. people must on some level know that there are diagnostic individuating cues available. if the raters’ beliefs about the current context (e. to use individuating behavioral information was not misguided because it nonetheless resulted in an impressive accuracy rate. 2013). Such a numerical prediction should be relatively easy to test. (vi) It may even be possible to generalize the P–L model to account for the effect of contextgeneralized information. context information guides the belief judgment process only in the absence of more individuating cues. we cannot trust people’s self-report to assess what diagnostic cues are available (Hartwig & Bond. Hartwig & Bond. Limitations of an adaptive lie detector account Although ALIED offers a number of testable predictions and synthesizes work across psychological disciplines. Importantly. 2014). as TDT would argue. The account assumes that as individuating information becomes less diagnostic or absent. of Pages 9 C. Or in terms of ALIED. Please cite this article in press as: Street. again assuming the individuating cues are weak. and because individuating cues are usually weak (DePaulo et al. because people’s prior experiences suggest most people tell the truth (DePaulo et al. 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. But as I will show in Section 8 this prediction is not entirely unchallenged. In summary.N. Some further predictions may be garnered from Section 9. judgments consistent with context-general information should be cognitively easier. http://dx. 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.. If the lie bias can be shown to be functionally distinct from the truth bias. the use of context-general information increases. 2010.. Second. and as arising from different underlying processes. 2004. Study 1). people will make use of them to form their lie–truth judgments.doi. But it can lead to wildly inaccurate judgments too. Notice that no distinction has been made between the truth bias and the lie bias. people do not have a cognitive default to believe. accuracy was still relatively high when behavioral information was available (just under 80%). 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. (iii) Individuating and context-general cues will be used to different degrees in a judgment.g.e. but as yet I am unaware of any published data that has assessed this. which causes lower accuracy. Instead.. The adaptive strategy I have argued for should often lead to relatively accurate judgments compared to random guessing. and so should lead to context-informed judgments. This is only true provided there is an absence of more tangible and readily testable individuating evidence (Gervais & Henrich. 2013.06. (ii) The less diagnostic an individuating cue is. If raters fail to notice or process diagnostic individuating cues (which may be assessed by means of a lens model analysis. TDT (Levine. Put another way. The same is true of individuating cues. Although this seems to undermine the account. 2003).002 . 1996). accuracy increases because the environment becomes more representative of a context-based heuristic. where context-based general information is relied upon more heavily as an individuating cue becomes more diagnostic. First. (iv) Although the strategies people use are adaptive and functional. most people tell the truth) diverge from the actual state of the environment (e. In the presence of highly diagnostic individuating cues. & Markman.e. and more importantly.. the use of context-general information should increase. The Park–Levine (P–L) probability model (Park & Levine.jarmac. 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. C. Assuming the absence of individuating cues. Under the ALIED account. As recent meta-analyses have shown us. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. then raters should rely on context-general information to make an informed guess. in an experimental setting usually there is an equal proportion of liars and truth-tellers). accuracy should decrease when most people are lying. Boerger. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx judgments are less cognitively taxing to make. Woolley. Predictions of the ALIED account One of the advantages of ALIED is that it offers a number of predictions that can be tested. there are two important caveats. raters still incorporate less diagnostic behavioral information into their judgment.N. Consider a recent finding by Bond et al. 8. 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. 2011).G Model ARTICLE IN PRESS JARMAC-182. similar to previously reported accuracy rates using behavioral information alone (i. it has its limitations. Woolley & Ghossainy. 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 . which leaves open an opportunity for falsifying the account. 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. People do not always rely on the best evidence available to them. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). this would be problematic for the ALIED account.2015. Even when a perfectly diagnostic cue is available in the form of incentives the speaker has for lying. i.org/10.. 2001) shows that accuracy increases as the base rate of honesty increases. without incentive information). so too will the response bias. and so there should be less cognitive difficulty in making judgments that contrast with context-general information. which may exhibit itself in reaction times or other measures of judgment difficulty.1016/j. Not detecting a diagnostic individuating cue is equivalent to that cue not being present. 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.. the more impact context-general information will have on the final judgment.. When the context shifts. But ALIED argues that. Because TDT claims the truth bias is a default. 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. for example). So although accuracy clearly declined. No. As such. 2011. 7. (2013. If the context suggested most people would lie. Levine et al. (i) highly diagnostic individuating-cues should guide the judgment.

and to encourage the field to explore lie detection from a process-oriented perspective. Schwarz. but it is consistent with previous findings and shows how even salience can be relied upon to make an informed choice (Schwarz. Poppe. remaining agnostic. Schuetzler. we must understand (i) the processes underlying how and why people deceive. 1992). This does not seem very adaptive or functional. the bias has been shown to reduce or disappear (Street & Kingstone. 2006).’s (2013) findings is of course mere speculation. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2015). Street & Richardson. Kello. cited by Reinhard & Sporer.. Given that manipulations of generalized suspicion and other manipulations sometimes only reduce the truth bias rather than result in a lie bias (e. 1990. & Anderson. say. Future work is required to test this speculation. 1990). Levine... we must first ask whether we ought to remove judgmental biases at all. & Reinhard. social. Please cite this article in press as: Street. Instead. For instance. base rates (Park & Levine. 2012. It is important to note that salience can be functional and lead to informed judgments. the base rate of honesty with other context-general cues (e. But some work in the memory domain finds that allowing people to indicate they are uncertain. 1999). & McCornack. it may be that people integrate their context-general beliefs about. 2000. 2012). 2012. Street & Richardson. To attain reliable accuracy rates. 2013. They can vary from social rules (O’Sullivan. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors. personal relationships (McCornack & Levine.g. This places a limit on the explanatory power of the account. people must be encouraged to acknowledge the uncertainty in the environment and then abstain from judgment. 2015. amongst others. A more problematic limitation is that ALIED does not propose how people select or integrate various types of context-general cues. A very simple way to do this is to give people the explicit option of saying “unsure”. I still believe we must rid ourselves of the truth bias. 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. 1996). 2015). 2015a).2015.1016/j. But despite this benefit. of Pages 9 ARTICLE IN PRESS C.. and metacognition is likely to play an important role here (see Ask et al. 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. Reducing judgmental biases may mean paying attention to when there are few or no diagnostic individuating cues available and refraining from making a guess. the word ‘bias’ unfortunately implies an erroneous imbalance that must be corrected (see Street & Masip. 2015. using effective questioning methods to probe the statement (Levine.g. easily processed information can often act as a useful proxy to guide truth judgments (Ask. http://dx. then. Dechêne. Practical application As is widely known in the community. 1999. only one component of the lie detection process. Speculatively. Schwarz & Clore. This may be easier said than done. or giving further information about the motives and incentives behind the statement (Bond et al. This generalized knowledge will be adaptive in the long run. 2010. The Global Deception Research Team. Blair et al. Taylor. Clearly then. lie detection accuracy is only marginally above chance (Bond & DePaulo. Thus salient. if there were no diagnostic individuating cues available (e. rather than making a forced choice. Dale.jarmac. is the result of an attempt to make accurate judgments by relying on informed but generalized strategies. Park. Van Der Zee. No. 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. (ii) how raters try to make the lie–truth judgment.N.doi.06.org/10. developmental. 1993. 2006. Stahl. Greifeneder. the consistently low accuracy rates (Bond & DePaulo. 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. It does not necessarily follow that less biased judgments will be more accurate judgments (Jussim. 2003). The account does not make any claims as to how people select or integrate multiple diagnostic individuating cues.N. 2014. say. and (iii) where that judgment process goes wrong. Fiedler. & Wilson. are given more credence and so more weighting in the judgment (see Nisbett & Ross. the account places focus on how people can make adaptive judgments when individuating cues are absent or lacking diagnosticity. This has largely been lacking in theory (Köhnken. 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 than forcing them into making a lie or truth judgment. 2010. In their absence. 2012). before the speaker has even begun to deliver a statement). Buller & Burgoon. To reliably improve lie detection in applied settings. 2007). 2012). but in individual instances it may lead to incorrect judgments. 2001.. Street / Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition xxx (2015) xxx–xxx 6 directly to the veracity of the given statement. Indeed. the theoretical account offered here stands in sharp contrast to the long-held view that lie detectors are error-prone (e. This has implications beyond the domains of detecting deception. improves their recall accuracy (Koriat & Goldsmith. is to provide a process-oriented foundation from which to begin addressing how best to detect deception. 9. and if they are all integrated into the judgment or if people select only a small set of the available cues. Miller & Stiff. But before trying to remove biases from lie–truth judgments. This account of Bond et al. Street & Richardson. 2006) show people do not always make the most accurate judgments. By gaining a further understanding of how and why people lie.g. for consideration of this possibility).002 . suspicion) in the current environment (see Street & Richardson. Duran. sparked a rush to application. we need a theory that can explain if and when different types of context-general cues are used. ALIED argues the truth bias. 2013. This might mean amplifying behavioral cues (Vrij & Granhag. This fact. Kraut. and more internally coherent with other available information. This has drastic implications for how the field should progress. the more likely that information is to be supported by other evidence. Reber & Schwarz. 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. 1991. Hypothetically. being more salient than abstracted incentive information. 2015). rather. 2015b). 1996. & Wänke.G Model JARMAC-182. 2012). and by exploring how behavior unfolds. 2015. 2014) and even emotion and affect (Shackman et al.. C. 2010). 2011). more compatible with what one believes. In line with current thinking. One of the most important contributions of the ALIED account. Hansen. 2015). Platzer & Bröder. the police force and military investigations.g. Most organizations are concerned with effective and unbiased decision-making. It is an adaptive strategy to rely on more generalized context-general information when more individuating cues have low diagnosticity. it may be that the speakers’ behaviors. & Richardson. Gilbert. coupled with the obvious applications to.. Finally. Street and Richardson (2015b) argue saliency may be the key to explaining why accuracy improves when using the indirect lie detection method. 1980). and it may be fruitful to integrate those findings into the ALIED account. if we are to improve lie detection accuracy we must increase the diagnosticity of individuating cues. 1993. and judgment and decision-making research. 1980. 2014b). By integrating across cognitive. When this option is available. Schwarz’s (2015) ‘Big Five’ criteria shows that the easier it is to process some information. Street. Miller & Stiff. Vrij & Granhag..

adaptive strategies to deal with the ever-changing state of the world. where magistrates will dispense justice from “community buildings. leisure centres and office space—with mobile courts that change their location over time” (Chambers. Brosseau-Liard. E. M. Base-rate respect: From ecological rationality to dual processes. M.. Clément. 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. E. J. CA: CSLI Publications. M. Hospital staff must be careful not to give out sensitive information about a celebrity if a press reporter calls posing as a family member. 212–221. D. family. 360–379. Bond. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. R.002 . 1–70. B. C. 82(6). Acta Psychologica. & Tranel. B. Charlton. (2012). 1–24. 1–20). Studies of independence and conformity: I. A minority of one against a unanimous majority.. V. but they are nonetheless functional.. Arias. IL: University of Chicago Press. 423–442. Paril. DePaulo. J.. T.. Accuracy of deception judgments. Content in context improves deception detection accuracy. Communication Reports.. Malone. In R.. (2008). R.. M. 211–233. to be aware of the basis of their judgment—whether it is the result of individuating cues or context-general cues. 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. (2012). J. K.uk/ publications/category/item/future-courts-a-new-vision-for-summary-justice. D. 12(1). Barbey. 10(3). & Burgoon. Levine. Brosseau-Liard. e108308. Fast and fragile: A new look at the automaticity of negation processing.. DePaulo.. (2013).policyexchange. R.. 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ALIED argues there is no cognitive defaulting toward believing others. & Davis. Anderson.. G. Bond. M. & Wilson. compared to interviewing the same person in a more relaxed environment such as the suspect’s/witness’ own home? This is a particularly pressing issue in England and Wales presently. In F.). This system has remained relatively unchanged since its inception over 700 years ago. E. Mind & Language. You seem certain but you were wrong before: Developmental change in preschoolers’ relative trust in accurate versus confident speakers. might interviewing a suspect or witness in the back of a police car lead to more guilt-presumptive questioning and expectations of deception. In D.. (2004). Schuetzler. Hutchison. 203–242. 74–118. M. Muhlenbruck.. E. ALIED: Humans as adaptive lie detectors.. D. 466–503). 383–416). Chicago. and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. E.. P. NY: Oxford University Press. 10. 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