Truth-Default Theory: Changing Our Understanding of Human Deception



  • Truth-default theory (TDT) is a theory of human deceptive communication. TDT grew out of and resides in quantitative, experimental multi-disciplinary social and life science. It rejects”cue-theory” accounts of deception detection and prioritizes empirical evidence that replicates. The theory is structurally modular and abductive in its approach. It is made of mini-theories, models, and effects that can either stand alone or that be combined into the larger TDT framework. The theory and its modules were created though a method of observation, tentative explanation, testing, refinement, and replication. Communication is viewed as an essential facet and defining feature of human nature and human life. For communication to function, we must believe others, and efficient and effective communication requires the truth-default. In Chapter 31, entitled”Truth-Default Theory: Changing Our Understanding of Human Deception, " Timothy R. Levine provides an explanation for the truth-default - the idea that we passively and uncritically accept the content of other’s communication unless suspicion is triggered. The truth-default make us vulnerable, at least in the short term, to deception. But, because deception is relatively infrequent and often about not-so-important things, the tradeoff is worth it. After discussing the main goals and features of TDT, Levine describes several research and practical applications of the theory before concluding the chapter with an evaluation of the theory’s central ideas.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13

  • 9780367425296
  • Start Page

  • 403
  • End Page

  • 413