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Human Lie-Detection Performance: Does Random Assignment versus Self-Selection of Liars and Truth-Tellers Matter?

Journal article
Authors Karl Ask
Sofia Calderon
Erik Mac Giolla
Published in Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 128-136
ISSN 2211-3681
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 128-136
Language en
Keywords Deception, Detection strategy, Lie detection, Random assignment, Self-selection
Subject categories Applied Psychology, Cognitive science, Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


Deception research has been criticized for its common practice of randomly allocating senders to truth-telling and lying conditions. In this study, we directly compared receivers’ lie-detection accuracy when judging randomly assigned versus self-selected truth-tellers and liars. In a trust-game setting, senders were instructed to lie or tell the truth (random assignment; n = 16) or were allowed to choose to lie or tell the truth of their own accord (self-selection; n = 16). In a sample of receivers (N = 200), we tested two alternative hypotheses, predicting opposite effects of random assignment (vs. self-selection) on receivers’ lie-detection accuracy. Accuracy rates did not differ significantly as a function of veracity assignment, failing to support the claim that random assignment of liars and truth-tellers alters the detectability of deception. Equivalence tests indicated that, while a small effect of random assignment cannot be ruled out, moderate (or larger) effect sizes are unlikely.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-06-06