The Science behind Deception
by Rachelle M. Smith
January 2022, 325pp, 7x10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6759-0
$97, £72, 84€, A132
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6760-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The average American adult tells one to two lies a day, including to family, friends, colleagues, and intimate partners.

This encyclopedia examines the phenomenon of deception from a variety of perspectives and in a multitude of contexts. It offers readers an accessibly written and engaging resource that sheds light on when, why, and how we lie.

Ironically, it seems to be a universal truth that everyone lies. From innocent “white lies” to elaborate deceptions, humans appear to be hard-wired for dishonesty. But what psychological or evolutionary purpose does lying serve? What motivates us to lie, and what effects do such lies have on those around us and on our own physiology and mental health? What are the differences between types of lies, and how do various forms of dishonesty manifest themselves in such areas as politics, advertising, and social media? And, perhaps most importantly, how can we spot liars in our everyday lives and encourage those around us—and even ourselves—to be more honest?

Lies: The Science behind Deception provides a broad and multifaceted introduction to this fascinating topic. More than 175 entries address the many forms of lying, the purpose and development of such behaviors, and their consequences. It also includes practical sidebars that help readers to deal with lying and liars in their own lives.


  • Examines the topic from a variety of perspectives and in a wide array of contexts, from politics to advertising to everyday interactions
  • Provides information about the different types of lies and suggests times where lying or believing lies may be beneficial rather than detrimental
  • Explores the physical and psychological effects of lying or catching others lying
  • Offers powerful insights readers can use when addressing lying and deception in their own lives
Rachelle M. Smith, PhD, is professor of psychology and chair of social sciences at Husson University in Bangor, ME. She is author of Greenwood's The Biology of Beauty: The Science behind Human Attractiveness. She is also coauthor of a book chapter titled "Ontogeny of Tactical Deception" and such journal articles as "Development of Tactical Deception from 4 to 8 Years of Age" and "Development of Children's Ability to Infer Intentions from Nonverbal Cues."
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