Personality type and the successful liar

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Alicia Nicole Isenberg (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
L. Alvin Malesky, Jr.

Abstract: Deception is a heavily researched and highly contentious area in the field of modern psychology. A large emphasis has been placed on deception detection, but little is known about the individual differences of a successful liar. Machiavellianism and psychopathy are two traits commonly associated with deceptive behavior (Vrij, 2009). Past research has demonstrated that individuals scoring high on Machiavelliansim were harder to judge if they were telling the truth and ultimately more successful at telling believable lies (Geis & Moon, 1981). These traits pertain to abnormal behavior but lying is part of everyone’s life. Therefore, it is important to examine if normal personality traits influence successful lying. Machiavellianism is not specifically included in the FFM but research has demonstrated significant negative correlations with the Agreeableness and Conscientiousness domains of the FFM (Vrij, 2009). The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between personality and the ability to tell a successful lie. The M5-120, which is based on the FFM of personality, was used to gather information on the participants’ personality. Pearson correlations were used to examine the relationship between personality and successful lying. Findings revealed a significant relationship between successful lying and the Agreeableness domain. Specifically, the modesty and sympathy facets of the Agreeableness domain were significantly correlated with successful lying. The relationship between successful lying and the artistic interests facet of the Openness to Experience domain was also revealed to be significant. An independent t-test revealed no significant relationship between successful lying and gender. This study suggests that personality may play a role in the ability to successfully lie but additional research is needed to confirm this relationship.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
deception, liar, lies, personality
Truthfulness and falsehood -- Psychological aspects
Deception -- Psychological aspects

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