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Documenting the truth-default: The low frequency of spontaneous unprompted veracity assessments in deception detection

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Abstract

The core idea of truth-default theory (T. R. Levine, 2014) is that when people cognitively process the content of others' communication, they typically do so in a manner characterized by unquestioned, passive acceptance. Two deception detection experiments tested the existence of the truth-default by comparing prompted and unprompted evaluations of others. The first experiment involved viewing videotaped communication, and the second experiment involved live, face-to-face interactions. In both experiments, research confederates told the truth and lied about plausible and implausible autobiographical content. Participants completed both traditional, prompted, dichotomous truth-lie assessments and open-ended thought-listing measures. The order of the two types of measures was experimentally varied. The results supported the concept of a truth-default. Coded thought listings showed that, absent prior prompting, receivers mentioned consideration of the veracity of other's communication less than 10% of the time.

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Clare, D. D., & Levine, T. R. (2019). Documenting the truth-default: The low frequency of spontaneous unprompted veracity assessments in deception detection. Human Communication Research, 45(3), 286–308. https://doi.org/10.1093/hcr/hqz001

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