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Age Changes in the Detection of Deception

Bella M. DePaulo, Audrey Jordan, Audrey Irvine and Patricia S. Laser
Child Development
Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jun., 1982), pp. 701-709
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129383
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129383
Page Count: 9
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Age Changes in the Detection of Deception
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Abstract

The development of the ability to detect deception was investigated. Subjects were sixth graders, eighth graders, tenth graders, twelfth graders, and college students who watched or listened to a videotape of 4 males and 4 females, each describing someone they liked and someone they disliked (honest messages) and pretending to like the disliked person ("pretend to like") and to dislike the liked person ("pretend to dislike") (deceptive messages). When subjects were asked to indicate the speakers' affect (liking ratings), subjects at every age level tended to report the affect that was overtly expressed, even when the speakers were lying. However, subjects at every age level did perceive the feigned expressions of liking as less positive than the sincere expressions of liking, and the feigned expressions of disliking as less negative than the honest expressions of disliking. The three oldest groups also discriminated truth from deception by their "mixed-feelings" ratings-they perceived the speakers as having more mixed feelings when they were lying than when they were telling the truth. However, only the twelfth graders and college students perceived the dishonest messages as more deceptive than the honest messages. Finally, there were systematic changes, with age, in the kinds of messages that subjects perceived as deceptive. At the younger age levels, subjects judged expressions of negative affect as more deceptive than expressions of positive affect; however, among the older subjects, this trend reversed and subjects judged expressions of positive affect to be relatively more deceptive than expressions of negative affect.

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