In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Deceiving and Detecting Deceit

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Theories
  • Applications

Psychology Deceiving and Detecting Deceit
Bella M. DePaulo, Charles Bond
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0063


People have been fascinated by the topic of deception for millennia. Issues of truth and deception have figured prominently in philosophy, literature, and law. More recently, psychologists have begun to treat deception as a topic for investigation. This bibliography will provide the reader with a road map to the psychological research literature on deception. The goal is to understand what happens when one person tries to deceive another. After considering several overviews, theories, and applications, this article presents work on the liar, before turning to work on the would-be lie detector. As the accumulated evidence shows, it is hard to detect lies.

General Overviews

There are many facets of deception and many approaches to lie detection. The works cited here provide overviews of these subjects. Kerr 1990 is an anthology of literary, religious, and historical writings about deception. Barnes 1994 treats lying in its societal context, while Ford 1996 brings a clinical perspective to the subject. A Spanish-language article, Masip 2005 seeks to correct popular misconceptions about deceit, while Vrij 2008 offers a comprehensive account of psychological research on this topic. Edited collections of chapters on diverse aspects of deception include Harrington 2009, as well as McGlone and Knapp 2010. For the latest research on lie detection, Internet users can turn to the Deception Blog.

  • Barnes, J. A. 1994. A pack of lies: Towards a sociology of lying. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511520983

    The author offers a mix of popular and scholarly information about lying. He identifies settings in which one can expect more lies and fewer lies. He considers cultural differences in lying and lying as an aspect of interpersonal relationships. He analyzes the benign lies in fictional works.

  • Deception Blog.

    This website collates information about the application of psychological research on deception. Updated monthly, the site provides links to relevant news stories, journal articles, and legal developments. Those who subscribe to the website receive these items through e-mail.

  • Ford, C. V. 1996. Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! The psychology of deceit. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    The author, a psychiatrist, offers a wide-ranging book on deception. He covers biological, developmental, and personality issues before turning to his primary interest—the clinical aspects of deceit.

  • Harrington, B., ed. 2009. Deception: From ancient empires to Internet dating. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

    This collection of contributed chapters addresses four topics: lie detection, technological issues, trust, and institutional deceit. The contributors come from diverse backgrounds: psychology, anthropology, sociology, and the military.

  • Kerr, P., ed. 1990. The Penguin book of lies. London: Viking.

    This editor, a Londoner, offers a collection of original writings from Western literature, history, government, and religion. The collection begins with a serpent’s deception in the book of Genesis, continues with lies in ancient Greece, and ends with political misinformation in the 1980s.

  • Masip, J. 2005. ¿Se pilla antes a un mentiroso que a un cojo? Sabiduría popular frente a conocimiento científico sobre la detección no-verbal del engaño. Papeles del Psicólogo 26:78–91.

    Natives of Spain say that “a liar is caught sooner than a cripple.” Psychologist Jaume Masip discusses this and other popular beliefs about deception. He corrects the misleading claims in best-selling self-help books and describes scientific research on the nonverbal detection of deception.

  • McGlone, M. S., and M. L. Knapp, eds. 2010. The interplay of truth and deception: New agendas in communication. New York: Routledge.

    This edited volume considers half-truths and partial lies. Communications scholars contribute chapters on weasel words and other gray areas in strategic miscommunication.

  • Vrij, A. 2008. Detecting lies and deceit: Pitfalls and opportunities. 2d ed. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

    A reference bible for research specialists, this encyclopedic review of the psychology of deception will also be of interest to a lay audience. The author offers thorough, balanced discussions of stereotypes about deception, cues to deception, and specialized systems for uncovering deceit. Vrij offers constructive suggestions for those who encounter lies.

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