So far, I haven’t posted about deception on this blog nearly as often as I would like to, but I have been working on some things and collecting topics to discuss when I can get to them. Even though my real passion – personal and intellectual – is single life, I still find aspects of deception intriguing and I continue to get inquiries from others all the time.

What I’ve always wanted to say to people who want a big picture overview of some of the most fascinating and important questions about lying is to read a few select chapters. Of the dozens of papers I’ve published on the topic, these are the ones that get right to the heart of what most people who contact me want to know. Plus, although they do not compromise on the science, I would like to think that they are written in an engaging way. I’ll include some excerpts below so you can judge for yourself.

Problem is, before today, the chapters were available only in expensive academic books. I have finally gotten permission to reprint the chapters together and make them available for a more reasonable price. This brief new book is called The Hows and Whys of Lies. Below I’ll show you the Table of Contents (Part I), then two excerpts (Parts II and III), then options for finding the paperback and Kindle version of the book (Part IV).


TABLE OF CONTENTS  for The Hows and Whys of Lies

The Many Faces of Lies

  • How Often Do People Lie?
  • What Do People Lie About?
  • How Do Liars Justify Their Lies?
  • What Kinds of People Tell Lies Most Readily?
  • Rush Limbaugh Finds the Root of Our Society’s Moral Decay, and I’m It
  • Is It OK to Lie?
  • Are Serious Lies Different From Everyday Lies?
  • Should We Refrain From Telling Even Kind-Hearted Lies?
  • It Is Not Just About Lying
  • References

Discerning Lies from Truths:

Behavioral Cues to Deception and

the Indirect Pathway of Intuition

Cues to Deception: Results from 120 Samples

  • Are Liars More Tense Than Truth-Tellers?
  • Are Liars Less Positive and Pleasant Than Truth-Tellers?
  • Are Liars Less Forthcoming Than Truth-Tellers?
  • Do Liars Tell Less Compelling Tales Than Truth-Tellers?
  • Do Lies Include Fewer Ordinary Imperfections and Unusual Contents Than Truths?

Moderators of Cues to Deception

  • Do lies become more obvious when the liar is highly motivated?
  • Are lies told to conceal transgressions more obvious than other lies?
  • Do liars give themselves away by saying too much?
  • Are lies more convincing when prepared in advance?

Direct and Indirect Deception Detection




Excerpt #1 from The Hows and Whys of Lies

Rush Limbaugh Finds the Root of Our Society’s Moral Decay, and I’m It

One day in the summer of 1998, the conservative and highly opinionated talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, opened a segment of  his television show with the following proclamation:

“I made a prediction not long ago in the heat of one of the controversies surrounding the President. I said, look, over the course of this year we’re going to hear how everybody lies, it ain’t any big deal. Therefore, Clinton is nothing special. And I’m making a joke! I make joke predictions about these people all the time. And they come true!”

He then held up an issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in which one of my diary studies was published, and elicited derisive laughter from his studio audience as he quoted me as saying, “Most people think lying is manipulative and exploitative…but those lies are not the most common ones.  More often, people lie to enhance their self-esteem, to get others to like them or respect them and to spare other’s feelings…Being honest all the time is not a great idea because the truth often hurts.” Actually, he had the wrong issue of the journal, and those words never appeared in it, but as a paraphrase of what I really did think, it was close enough.

Continuing, he added, “I don’t know if this is coordinated with, with the Clinton administration, I doubt that it is. But this is just the classic example of the moral decay and the evaporating fiber of our society… It’s what Moynihan called ‘defining deviancy down’. We got all sorts of problems out there and after fighting them for years and years and we decide we can’t solve it, we’ll just say, hey, that’s normal!”

Lowell Weicker wanted to toss me out with the rest of the garbage for believing that all politicians lie. Now Rush Limbaugh was holding me up as a classic example of the moral decay and evaporating fiber of society. It was turning out to be a rough year.

Much as I dislike Rush Limbaugh and virtually all of his opinions, I must admit that the question he raised is not unfair. If everyone lies (as I believe they do), then does that mean that lying is acceptable?


Excerpt #2 from The Hows and Whys of Lies

[Here I’m discussing what people only wish they would find when learning about liars and their lies:] …a behavior that always occurs when people are lying, and never occurs at any other time. This possibility was immortalized in the story of Pinocchio, the little boy whose nose grew every time he lied, but not at any other time. (Unluckily for Pinocchio, he had no access to telephones or to email. There was nothing he could do to hide the tell-tale sign of his deceit.)

The appeal of poor Pinocchio’s nose as a cue to deceit is not only that it is perfectly valid, but also that it requires no other knowledge or points of comparison. Pinocchio lies, his nose grows–right in front of our eyes. We do not need to know how Pinocchio typically behaves when he is telling the truth.  It does not matter what Pinocchio is lying about, why he is lying, or how he feels about his lies. If he lies, his nose simply grows.

The real world of behavioral cues is not like this.


To read more, you can get The Hows and Whys of Lies here, from Amazon here, or for your Kindle here. (The first two are links to the paperback version and the price is identical. If you already have free shipping from Amazon from Amazon Prime or some such, then go with that. If not, then clicking the first link (this one) means I would get a slightly bigger cut than Amazon gives me. And, if you ever want any of my books but can’t afford them, let me know. Sometimes I ask my sibs to give me copies of my books instead of birthday or Christmas presents. Whenever I have extras, I’m happy to give them to people who want to read them but don’t have the money to buy them.)