Date of Award

Summer 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Jeffrey Walczyk


Lying is so common in human behavior that some have labeled it a social skill. Despite the ubiquity of lies, humans have consistently been found to be poor lie detectors. Attempts have been made to improve the accuracy of human lie detection. Unfortunately, the most successful training only improves accuracy slightly above the level of chance. Because of its importance to society, considerable effort has been aimed at developing methods to help determine when people are lying. Researching how and why humans infer that another person is lying has the potential to advance the understanding of lie detection. Researchers have found that gender influences subjective judgments of trustworthiness and credibility. Further, gender may also influence behaviors resulting from these judgments. In other words, gender is likely to influence the tendency to infer lies. The goal of this study was to determine if differences exist in the likelihood of inferences that lies are being told due to the sex of the sender of the lies, the target of the lies, and a third-person evaluator of the lies. It was hypothesized that targets (individuals receiving a message) and third person evaluators would infer lies more often when the potential liar was of the opposite sex of the target than when the potential liar was the same sex as the target. Male participants would infer lies more often than female participants in all conditions except when non-verbal cues are unavailable. A scale of femininity would be negatively related to the number of lie inferences. Finally, it was thought that lies would be inferred less often when liars are female than when they are male. The results did not confirm any of the hypotheses. One surprising finding was that, as targets, participants inferred more lies when liars were female. Though the hypotheses were not confirmed, the results are nonetheless important for future research into factors affecting the inference of lies. Such factors have the potential to improve therapy services, marketing, and various aspects of interactions with the legal system.