Perception Matters

By Truth About Deception

Close relationships are full of paradoxes and double standards. For example, people want their partners to be exciting and fun, but predictable at the same time. Along the same line, people want to share their feelings with a partner, while also maintaining some sense of privacy.

When it comes to the use of deception in a romantic relationship, paradoxes abound. The latest research on deception in romantic relationships highlights some of the paradoxes that exist.

To begin with, people tend to hold two sets of rules about the use of deception:

  • Obligatory Rules – my partner should always tell me the truth.
  • Discretionary Rules – my partner should have some flexibility about what he or she wants to share with me.

While people more strongly endorsed obligatory rules, people simultaneously valued discretionary rules. In short, people want it both ways.

The study also investigated how well couples understood each other with respect to their rules about the use of deception. That is, are people aware of their partner’s rules about the use of deception? And do couples actually understand each other?

For relational scholars the results were not surprising.

Perceived agreement (thinking a partner was on the same page) was higher than actual agreement (being on the same page), which was higher than understanding (being aware that you are in agreement or not).

In short, people think they understand their partner’s rules about using deception, more than they actually share the same rules. And people think they understand their partner’s rules about deception, more than they actually understand what is going on.

This lack of accuracy, however, is useful. People, who thought they understood their partner, but failed to see things accurately, had less conflict than those who actually understood where their partner was coming from.

Perception, not accuracy, is what helps make a relationship work.


Poor Lie Detection Skills

By Truth About Deception

People think they can detect deception, but ALL of the research shows just the opposite. People’s ability to detect deception, either with a stranger, a friend, or lover is no better than flipping a coin. We can only detect deception when we know the truth.

The latest research on the topic?

Experienced job interviewers were no better than novices at detecting deception during a job interview. A key quote from a summary of the research:

“Overall the participants achieved an accuracy rate of 52 percent – barely above chance performance, which is consistent with a huge literature showing how poor most of us are at spotting deception. But the headline finding is that the more experienced interviewers were no better than the novice interviewers at spotting lying job candidates.”

Detecting deception is always more difficult than people think it is (see, detecting deception).


A New Low

By Truth About Deception

Deception can be used to achieve a lot of different goals.

You can use it in a polite way to bolster someone’s self-esteem. Or you can use it in a harmful way by taking away an individual’s right to make an informed decision. For instance, people, who cheat on their spouses, rarely tell the truth. They want to limit their spouse’s ability to make an important decision – “Do I really want to be involved with a cheater?”

Apparently, some individuals are taking the use of deception to a new low. The state of California is now considering making rape by deception a crime. That’s right. A few individuals have been impersonating someone’s partner in order to have sex. Sneak into someone’s room late at night and pretend to be their partner. Or pretend to be someone you are not in order to get someone to have sex with you.

How pitiful is it that we have to consider making laws against such behavior?


How Would You Know?

By Truth About Deception

Self-deception is such a tricky topic. How do you gain awareness about a behavior that you conceal from yourself? Even researchers, who study biases, fall for the very same biases they study. For instance, do a good deed; it is because you are a good person. Do something wrong, well, the situation played a large role in what happened.

A new article in the Huffington Post highlights some of the problems of self-deception. A quote from the article:

“We lie to ourselves and to others every day. It’s what we do to get through our day. Lying can be thought of as a spectrum from being brutally honest on one side to being psychopathically dishonest on the other. Somewhere along that line is a healthy balance of authenticity, social intelligence and empathy. The sweet spot is different for everyone and it varies according to situations. I try to keep my range between brutally honest to telling a few little white lies, while not undermining the trust others have in me. Sometimes it’s a tightrope walk.”


Lying on Vacation

By Truth About Deception

Lying in order to obtain the honeymoon suite.  Stealing from the breakfast buffet.  Lying about your children’s age to receive reduced fares.  Just a few of the things people admit to lying about while traveling according to a new survey by CNN.