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

Publication date: 12 February 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.



Chih-Chen Lee, Tingting (Rachel) Chung and Robert B. Welker (2018) "Behavioral genetics of deception detection performance", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 106-120

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