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Publication Date

Summer 2013

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Gregory Feist


Deception, detection, Lie bias, primary psychopath, Psychopath, psychopathy

Subject Areas

Psychology; Personality psychology; Social psychology


Psychopaths are manipulative, remorseless, and impulsive individuals who lack a conscience and torment society. Primary psychopathy focuses on interpersonal characteristics (e.g., manipulativeness and egocentricity), and secondary psychopathy focuses on outward antisocial behaviors. Generally, we are no better than chance at detecting deception, and we have a truth bias; that is, when being deceived a person is likely to believe the other is being truthful. Conversely, a lie bias is when a person believes truth tellers are lying. Research has not examined the relationship between psychopathy and truth or lie bias. Understanding psychopaths' ability to detect deception may provide insight into their remorseless behavior. The main focus of this research was to identify the relationship between lie bias and subclinical primary psychopathy.

The sample consisted of 483 undergraduate university students with a mean age of 19.20 years. To measure deception detection, participants observed 10 videotaped interviews and assessed the subjects' honesty. Participants completed three self-report psychopathy measures: Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale; Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Psychopathic deviant; and Machiavellianism IV scale. Overall, participants did significantly better than chance at detecting deception t (424) = 8.06, p < .001. The results showed that there was not a significant relationship between subclinical primary psychopathology and lie bias. Truth and lie bias was not significantly related to the measures of psychopathy used in this study.