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The effects of cheating on deception detection during a social dilemma

Swanenburg, Kristina (2012) The effects of cheating on deception detection during a social dilemma. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Research by social psychologists and others consistently finds that people are poor at detecting attempted deception by others. However, Tooby and Cosmides (cognitive psychologists who favor evolutionary analyses of behavior) have argued and shown that humans have evolved a special “cognitive module” for detecting cheaters. Their research suggests that people are good at detecting cheating by group members. These two literatures seem to be at odds with one another. The hypothesis of this research was that when participants are told a lie by a fellow group member whose attempted deception involves cheating on a task that affects their outcomes, they will be good at detecting deception. In this experiment, participants played blackjack in groups using a social dilemma paradigm. Participants’ outcomes were either interdependent or independent with a confederate’s outcomes. It was predicted that participants whose outcomes were interdependent with the confederate would be better at detecting deception by the confederate than those participants whose outcomes were independent from the confederate’s outcomes. Results indicate that when judging other participants’ lies interdependent players were more successful at deception detection than independent players but were not more sensitive to the lies. This effect may be driven by the truth bias, people assume that their interaction partners are truthful which would explain why sensitivity measures (which remove response biases) did not show the hypothesized effect. Independent players were not more successful or sensitive when judging the confederate’s lies. The failure to find the hypothesized effect may be due to methodological factors. Both participants heard may have had their cheating detection modules activated when hearing the instructions for the experiment which implied that cheating could occur. Overall success rates support this idea because they were significantly higher than success rates reached by most deception detection research (50%) which may be indicative that both participants cheating detection modules were active. Results also indicate that as the number of lies told increases overall success decreases but success at detecting lies and sensitivity increase. Thus the more lies that are told the better people are at catching them.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Swanenburg, Kristinakls94@pitt.eduKLS94
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMoreland, Richardcslewis@pitt.eduCSLEWIS
Committee MemberLevine, Johnjml@pitt.eduJML
Committee MemberGreenberg, Martingreenber@pitt.eduGREENBER
Date: 31 January 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 May 2011
Approval Date: 31 January 2012
Submission Date: 2 November 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 52
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: deception detection, cheating
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2012 12:58
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:35


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