Explore UAB

Photo of Tim LevineResearchers in the Department of Communication Studies are shedding light on why we lie and why we are so easily deceived. A decades-long program of empirical research by Distinguished Professor and Chair Tim Levine, Ph.D., has culminated in a new theory of deception—Truth-Default Theory.

Levine explains his theory in his book, Duped: Truth-Default Theory and the Social Science of Lying and Deception, published in Fall 2019. Levine explores the near-universal human tendency of humans to operate within the mindset that can be characterized as a “truth-default.”

A host of issues, such as the proliferation of fake news and internet hoaxes, have revealed that people can be astonishingly gullible. According to Levine, humans uncritically accept most of the messages we receive as “honest.” We are perceptually blind to deception. 

Levine’s research on lie detection and truth-bias has produced many provocative new findings over the years. He has uncovered what makes some people more believable than others and has discovered several ways to improve lie-detection accuracy. In Duped, Levine details where these ideas came from, how they were tested, and how the findings combine to produce a coherent new understanding of human deception and deception detection.