Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 96–109 | Cite as

The Reliability of Lie Detection Performance

  • Amy-May Leach
  • R. C. L. Lindsay
  • Rachel Koehler
  • Jennifer L. Beaudry
  • Nicholas C. Bala
  • Kang Lee
  • Victoria Talwar
Original Article


We examined whether individuals’ ability to detect deception remained stable over time. In two sessions, held one week apart, university students viewed video clips of individuals and attempted to differentiate between the lie-tellers and truth-tellers. Overall, participants had difficulty detecting all types of deception. When viewing children answering yes–no questions about a transgression (Experiments 1 and 5), participants’ performance was highly reliable. However, rating adults who provided truthful or fabricated accounts did not produce a significant alternate forms correlation (Experiment 2). This lack of reliability was not due to the types of deceivers (i.e., children versus adults) or interviews (i.e., closed-ended questions versus extended accounts) (Experiment 3). Finally, the type of deceptive scenario (naturalistic vs. experimentally-manipulated) could not account for differences in reliability (Experiment 4). Theoretical and legal implications are discussed.


Deception Lie detection Reliability Individual differences 



This research was supported by grants to the authors (Leach, Lindsay, Bala, & Lee) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy-May Leach
    • 1
  • R. C. L. Lindsay
    • 2
  • Rachel Koehler
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. Beaudry
    • 2
  • Nicholas C. Bala
    • 2
  • Kang Lee
    • 3
  • Victoria Talwar
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of Criminology, Justice, and Policy StudiesUniversity of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada
  2. 2.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Child StudyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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