Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


James Lampinen

Committee Member

Doug Behrend

Second Committee Member

Lindsay Ham-Holm


Lie detection, Intentional lie, Honest mistake, Non-verbal cues, motive, memorability


Previous research on lie detection suggests that people use cues to deception to make a true-false judgment about a statement. However, no prior research has investigated what factors cause others to classify known false statements as an intentional lie or an "honest" mistake. This dissertation reports two studies that sought to answer this question. Experiment 1 consisted of a diary study where participants reported false statements and then described their reason for classifying the statements as a deliberate lie or honest mistake. In Experiment 2, participants completed a semi-structured interview where they described various false statements and why they classified the statement as a deliberate lie or honest mistake. I found that participants used different kinds of cues to classify honest mistakes and deliberate lies. Perceived memorability and lack of motive were the most common rationale participants gave for classifying a false statement as an honest mistake. Motive, reputation, and the presence of non-verbal cues were most associated with deliberate lies. This dissertation suggests that people classify deliberate lies and honest mistakes using different criteria.

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