Miller McCune -- who continually cranks out great stuff about research in the real world -- wrote this week about an amusing side effect of the TV show Lie to Me. (For those who, like me, haven't seen it, the network describes the show this way: "Lie to Me is the compelling drama series inspired by the scientific discoveries of a real-life psychologist who can read clues embedded in the human face, body and voice to expose the truth and lies in criminal investigations.")
Okey dokey. Lie to Me stars Tim Roth (an actor I always enjoy - his performance in the excellent indie film Gridlock'd is a must-see). But as MM explains, In Truth, ‘Lie to Me’ Breeds Misconceptions. Apparently people who see the show get a little over-confident in their ability to judge when someone is lying. "Given the program’s supposed grounding in scientific theory and the well-documented ability of fictionalized dramatizations to influence
opinions, it is reasonable to assume some viewers feel they gain insights that can help them distinguish facts from falsehoods. But newly published research suggests watching the show seems to have the opposite effect. 'Lie to Me appears to increase skepticism at the cost of
accuracy,' reports a research team led by Timothy Levine, a professor of communication at Michigan State University."
The research abstract says "Participants (N = 108) watched an episode of Lie to Me, a different drama, or no program and then judged a series of honest and deceptive interviews. Lie to Me viewers were no better at distinguishing truths from lies, but were more likely than control participants to misidentify honest interviewees as deceptive. Watching Lie to Me decreases truth bias thereby increasing suspicion of others while at the same time reducing deception detection ability."
Gold star for transparency. Miller McCune includes details about the research they're discussing - they name the journal where it's being published, and provide a link. This research appears in The Impact of Lie to Me on Viewers’ Actual Ability to Detect Deception in the Sage journal Communication Research.