Thursday, April 25, 2013

Skeptics Less Able Than Trusting People To Identify Lying Individuals

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Washington Post, On Leadership, "The best lie detectors in the workplace" by Adam Grant:
[Nancy] Carter and [Mark] Weber recruited a group of people to watch the videos. Several days beforehand, they had completed a survey about whether they were generally skeptical or trusting of others. After watching the videos, the participants placed their bets about which candidates lied and which told the truth, and then made a choice about which ones they would hire.

The results were surprising. The more trusting evaluators better identified the liars among the group than the skeptics did, and were also less likely to hire those liars.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it’s the skeptics who are easiest to fool. Why would this be? One possibility, according to Carter and Weber, is that lie-detection skills cause people to become more trusting. If you’re good at spotting lies, you need to worry less about being deceived by others, because you can often catch them in the act.

The other possibility is that by trusting others, we sharpen our skills in reading people. Skeptics assume that most people are hiding or misrepresenting something. This makes them interpersonally risk-averse, whereas people who habitually trust others get to see a wider range of actions — from honesty to deception and generosity to selfishness. Over time, this creates more opportunities to learn about the signals that distinguish liars from truth tellers.
So what signals do trusters use to spot lies? One of the study’s findings is that they pay more attention to vocal cues than skeptics do.
Read the complete Washington Post article for links to studies.

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