The effect of self-awareness on facial expression of emotion of liars and truth-tellers in the courtroom
Solbu Slowe, Anne
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Self-awareness or attention to self can be elicited by mirrors, cameras, and audiences (Buss, 1980). Although research suggests that self-awareness enhances discrepancies between self and standards (e.g. Phillips & Silvia, 2005), the emotional expression of self-awareness in the context of lying and truth telling has not been studied. A 2 (truth/lie) x 5 (self-image/jury-image/prosecutor-image/distractor-image/no-image) research study was conducted to raise self-awareness (self-image, jury-image) in truth telling and lying participants in the courtroom, to measure differences in the presence/absence of facial expressions of emotion between these truth tellers and liars and to compare the results to control conditions (prosecutor-image, distractor-image, no-image). A TV screen in the courtroom served to display the intended image while participants told the truth or lied about a theft in front of a judge and a prosecutor. Videos of the participants' faces were coded using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS, Ekman & Friesen, 1978) and analyzed in terms of presence/absence of the emotions of fear/sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, enjoyment, and social smiling. Significant differences in fear/sadness and enjoyment smiles between liars were found across image conditions; the self-image condition had the greatest percentage of liars showing fear/sadness and also the greatest percentage of liars showing enjoyment smiles. Significantly more liars in the self-image condition displayed enjoyment smiles compared to truth tellers in the self-image condition. Results indicate different behavioral implications for liars as a result of seeing oneself as opposed to being in front of an audience, despite both being named as self-awareness stimuli. The idea of increased negative emotion as a result of self-discrepancies from standards was supported by the higher percentage of fear/sadness for the liars in the self-image condition.