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Deciphering the riddle of human deceit detection: groups comprising a higher number of anxious people are better at distinguishing lies from truths

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Are groups superior to individuals in detecting lies, and are there certain personality traits that significantly contribute to a collective lie-detecting capability? In the current research, we compared the ability of small groups to detect deception compared with individuals, and further examined whether small groups comprising more members high in attachment anxiety would show superior performance in detecting deceit. To this end, we asked 233 participants (40 groups and 113 individuals) to watch a series of clips showing a person making either truthful or untruthful statements, and then decide whether the speaker was honest or dishonest. Results confirmed our expectations and showed superior deceit-detection abilities in small groups, and that this ability was proportionate to the number of people high in attachment anxiety in the group. These results are discussed from the perspective of social defense theory, and the utility of diverse social groups in coping with diverse threats.
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Keywords: Judgment; attachment anxiety; deceit; detection; lying

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, School of Psychology, Herzliya, Israel

Publication date: November 25, 2016

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