To read this content please select one of the options below:

Behavioral genetics of deception detection performance

Chih-Chen Lee (Department of Accountancy, College of Business, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA)
Tingting (Rachel) Chung (Department of Business and Entrepreneurship, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Robert B. Welker (Retired, Venice, Florida, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 29 January 2018

Issue publication date: 7 March 2018




Deception detection is instrumental in business management but professionals differ widely in terms of deception detection performance. The purpose of this paper is to examine the genetic basis of deception detection performance using the classic twin study design and address the research question: how much variance in individual differences in deception detection performance can be accounted for by the variance in genetics vs environmental influences?


In total, 192 twins, with 65 pairs of monozygotic (identical) twins and 31 pairs of dizygotic (fraternal) twins participated in an experiment. A series of behavioral genetic analyses were performed.


The variability in deception detection performance was largely determined by differences in shared and non-shared environments.

Research limitations/implications

The subjects were solicited during the Twins Days Festival so the sample selection and data collection were limited to the natural settings in the field. In addition, the risks and rewards associated with deception detection performance in the study are pale in comparison with those in practice.

Practical implications

Deception detection performance may be improved through training programs. Corporations should continue funding training programs for deception detection.


This is the first empirical study that examines the complementary influences of genetics and environment on people’s ability to detect deception.



The authors wish to thank the Institute for Fraud Prevention (IFP) for the financial support for this research. The authors also wish to thank Jennifer Bourne, Jocelyn Inlay, Alexandra Mykita, Elaine Lesgold, Miranda Pollock, Adriane Pawluk and Josh Allenberg for their assistance with data collection and management, Karen Sudkamp with editorial assistance, and the participants at the 2014 IFP meeting for feedback.


Lee, C.-C., Chung, T.(R). and Welker, R.B. (2018), "Behavioral genetics of deception detection performance", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 106-120.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles