The Interpersonal Deception Theory

Many people tend to engage in deception, whether it is telling a white lie in order to save negative emotions or fabricating existing information to gain an advantage when negotiating for a deal. Some forms of deceptions are socially acceptable while others can be legally, ethically, or morally questionable (Masip & Herrero, 2015). As depicted in the explanation above, people attempt to subvert the truth due to different motives. Several scholars and practitioners have made substantial contributions to the theory of interpersonal deception. Interpersonal Deception Theory (IDT) is a theoretical framework that is designed to explain the ways in which people deal with actual or perceived deception while engaging in face-to-face communication (Lippard, 1988). The theory is premised on the central argument that many people tend to overestimate their ability to recognize lies (Masip & Herrero, 2015). This paper presents a critical review of literature on the Theory of Interpersonal Deception. The synthesis focuses on identifying and discussing the contributions of different researchers and scholars have made on understanding interpersonal deception.

Lippard, P. V. (1988). “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies”: Situational exigencies for interpersonal deception. Western Journal of Communication, 52(1), 91-103. Web.

In this journal article, the author contributes to the existing knowledge and understanding about interpersonal detection. In particular, Lippard (1988) investigated instances in which people engaged in interpersonal deception. The author used seventy-five subjects to record instances of the deception over a period of three weeks. The study incorporated 940 behaviors of deception that were coded with respect to the category and frequency, inspiration, and features of the recipients. He identified seven types with 81% of all the recorded deceptive acts accounting for lies. The study also shows that the occurrence rates of deception for every subject in a week were 4.2. The study results show disparity from the patterns of the past studies. The research identified 16 inspiration types that were statistically significant.

Through conducting primary research, this study generated valuable insights which advanced existing knowledge about Interpersonal Deception Theory. Previous studies only focused on the influence of relational variables of power and intimacy on interpersonal deception. Past researchers also investigated reasons for people to lie. The studies, however, failed to consider the relationship between a situation and deception. The author, therefore, advances the research by investigating situational necessities which tend to require a predictable deceitful reaction by evaluating the connection between motivation and recipient classifications. The author also advanced the research by expanding the group system to involve recipient classifications. Lippard analyzed the types of deception, recipient of deception and the fundamental stimulus for deception. The study identified power was an important variable for deception. The researcher, using 940 instances with 654 involving peers and 273 involving superiors and 13 subordinates produced results that identified frequency of interaction and not power imbalance to be the factor that correlated with frequency deception.

The results reinforced Hample’s findings of previous research studies. The investigation also assessed the relationship between friendship and deception. The findings reveal that frequency of interaction is the main factor for the differences in deception unlike Turner’s conclusion that non-intimate relationships experience more falsifications of truth than main relationships. The author also advanced the study of the Theory of Interpersonal Deception by analyzing the connection between life stage and deception. The study findings indicate that frequency of deception was subject to the forces at work in some life phases through which an individual intends to preserve their choices, privacy and search for happiness. The author additionally investigated the pattern considering deception as a learned response. The investigation perceives lying to be a learned answer and an approach for solving problems. The study has used this pattern of deception as a learned response to enhance an understanding of the interpersonal theory. The research findings reveal that a majority of the lies are not initiative but rather responsive giving effective answers to challenges.

The research is essential to the case study on interpersonal communication theory of deception. The article gives an overview of various components of lies. Several research findings of the past indicate that situation, power, and friendship initiate lies. Lippard (1988) has extended on the previous studies to investigate the relationship of the frequency of interaction and occurrence of deception. The research findings are significant since they further show that deception is responsive rather than a learned act.

Masip, J., & Herrero, C. (2015). Police detection of deception: Beliefs about behavioral cues to deception are strong even though contextual evidence is more useful. Journal of Communication, 65(1), 125-145. Web.

This peer-review journal article examined the mechanisms through which law enforcement agents, particularly police officers, detect deception. Masip and Herrero (2015) researched the authenticity of behavioral deception indications. The study intended to assert people believe that behavioral signs act as accurate deception signals. The research findings showed that the police officers and the community members revealed the detection criteria for lies and the method they used to discover lies in the past, hence, revealing information. The study results also indicated that officers disclosed information twice due to the professional experience rather than a personal perspective. Beliefs for both the police officers and community members were related to behavior while revealing information was circumstantial and, hence, relied on evidence and third party information. Officers provided more indicators than the community members, while also referring frequently to verbal inconsistencies and active detection approaches when responding to concerns of beliefs. The author, therefore, was concerned from his study results that practitioners need to be cautious about the contradictions between their beliefs about deception symptoms and helpful information to discover lies.

The two researchers made significant attempts to advance Levine’s Truth Deception Theory (TDT). The research process used police officers and a group of local community members of particular gender and age. The study investigated the detection criteria for lies and how to discover that an individual had previously lied when revealing information. The investigation differs from the previously performed studies but is related to TDT. The previous studies considered beliefs about deception cues or enlightening information. However, Masip and Herrero (2015) intended to show that the same participants would name non-behavioral information when citing a lie which they detected in the past despite also believing that behavioral information is the greatest revealing type of information. The study also used police officers in the investigation. Previous studies have only focused their research on lie detection results including response, bias, and accuracy. No study had focused on the law enforcement personnel’s procedures in identifying deception.

Furthermore, the investigation made a comparison among various efficient sources of information in police versus civilian contexts. The research used a methodology that differed from the previous studies conducted by Lippard (1988) and Burgoon et al. (1994). Masip and Herrero (2015) used 22 officers and 22 community members who filled questionnaires with an open prompt on how to detect lies. The results indicated that the participants believed that the behavioral information included visible behavior and unspecified behavioral information which was difficult to classify as verbal, physiological, or visible. The research indicated that non-behavioral contextual information is significant in the detection of lies. Observable behavior is a sign of deceit.

The study is significant to the case study since it gives theoretical implications to the Truth Deception Theory. The research shows that there is a need to add new elements to the theory. Behavioral signs are thus effective in detecting lies despite the presence of strong contextual information. The research also shows that the behavioral indications to deceit are highly valid unlike the previous perceptions of limited rationality.

Burgoon, J. K., Buller, D. B., Ebesu, A. S., & Rockwell, P. (1994). Interpersonal deception: V. Accuracy in deception detection. Communications Monographs, 61(4), 303-325. Web.

In this article, Burgoon et al. (1994) conducted a primary research study to examine the effect of suspicion, deception type, the form of the question, relational acquaintance, and competence on efficiency in detecting the truth and lies, using the guidelines of Interpersonal Deception Theory. The author used novices and experts as different categories who interviewed strangers and acquaintances who gave truthful responses and deceptive replies. Research findings showed that accuracy was much greater on veracity than cheating. On the other hand, learners were more precise than specialists with accuracy depending on the type of deception being committed and whether the interviewer was suspicious or not. The author discovered that suspicion weakened the precision of the experts. The level of truth‐biases increased with familiar others, specifically when assessors were doubtful. The study also revealed that the question approach either enhanced or worsened the inaccuracy of the response.

The study used various hypotheses to advance the study on interpersonal deception using Interpersonal Deception Theory. The author attempted to investigate the relationship between detection precision and types of deception. The research examined the effect of receiver suspicion, a phenomenon that the past studies had not investigated. The authors in their research procedure considered the effect of several aspects such as familiarity, type of questioning, and expertise measurement of accuracy on the accuracy of detecting deceit. Using 132 participants, Burgoon, et al. (1994) divided the participants into groups of experts and non-expert interviewers. The precision of accuracy depends on types of deception subject to honesty, judgments, accuracy, and bias.

In addition to that, this investigation attempted to determine whether suspicion negatively influenced the accuracy of specialists in detecting deceit in the context of interpersonal communication. Suspicion also interacts with the type of deception negatively affecting the judgment of disguise. The authors also tested relational familiarity and the effect on the accuracy of detecting lies. The research findings indicate that familiarity related to honesty and influenced the accuracy of the specialists. The results of the investigation undertaken by Burgoon et al. (1994) enhanced the understanding of the interpersonal theory of deception detection. Communicating face to face affects deception compared to non-interactive situations. The outcomes on the effect of relational familiarity on the judgment during deception are consistent with IDT theory that familiarity influences aspects such as honesty. An understanding of interpersonal deception can be enhanced from the research methodologies and outcomes. The procedure during the study makes a significant contribution through improving the accuracy and awareness during estimation of deception and the process of detecting interpersonal deception.

This primary research article makes substantial theoretical and practical contributions to the study of deception and the Theory of Interpersonal Deception in general. Most importantly, the study generated nuanced insights into the research subject, which heightened understanding of interpersonal deception which is a significant factor of interpersonal reliability, acknowledgment procedures, and precision. The authors provide strong evidence indicating that interpersonal deception is subject to familiarity, suspicion, and the type of deception.


Burgoon, J. K., Buller, D. B., Ebesu, A. S., & Rockwell, P. (1994). Interpersonal deception: V. Accuracy in deception detection. Communications Monographs, 61(4), 303-325. Web.

Lippard, P. V. (1988). “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies”: Situational exigencies for interpersonal deception. Western Journal of Communication, 52(1), 91-103. Web.

Masip, J., & Herrero, C. (2015). Police detection of deception: Beliefs about behavioral cues to deception are strong even though contextual evidence is more useful. Journal of Communication, 65(1), 125-145. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "The Interpersonal Deception Theory." August 7, 2022.