Investigating the “Deceiver Stereotype”: Do Older Adults Associate Averted Gaze With Deception?

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Abstract

Objectives.

Research indicates that the most commonly held belief about deception is that people avert their gaze when lying. The present study assessed adult age-related differences in both the association between averted gaze and judgments of deception and the strength of the “deceiver stereotype.”

Method.

In Study 1, younger and older adult participants were required to decide if individuals displaying direct gaze or differing degrees of gaze aversion were lying or telling the truth. In Study 2, a group of younger and older adults were explicitly asked about their beliefs concerning how different behaviors related to deception.

Results.

Findings revealed that, compared with younger participants, when asked to decide whether individuals were lying, older adults were less likely to associate direct gaze with honesty and averted gaze with deception. This effect was not due to age-related differences in the strength of the deceiver stereotype, as when explicitly asked, both younger and older participants associated averted gaze with lying.

Discussion.

These findings provide further evidence of age-related differences in the ability to extract socially relevant information from the eye region, which might relate to changes in visual scanning of facial features with age.

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