Which HEXACO Traits Make a Convincing Liar?

Law enforcement officers in undercover roles, working with informants and in police interviews, use deception to uncover critical evidence in criminal investigations. Therefore, lie production is a critical skill for these law enforcement officers. However, current selection processes for police assigned to these areas do not include tests to identify effective storytellers (liars), as standardised and reliable tests for this do not exist, despite the fact that the ability to lie is exceedingly important for both operational effectiveness and officer safety. This pilot study investigates the lie production abilities of 84 undergraduate students from an Australian university. Student scores in a game of deception were compared with their scores on the 100-item version of the HEXACO-PI-R (Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience), a measure of personality traits, to explore relationships between deception abilities and personality traits. Results indicate that fairness, sincerity, honesty-humility, sentimentality, social boldness and creativity were associated with lie production ability, while sociability and diligence were predictive of successful truth telling. Further research is required to validate these results in the law enforcement population. Notably, the findings did not support the existence of a relationship between lie production and lie detection ability, suggesting these are two separate skills.


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