Are presidential candidates impervious to deception detection? A test of voters’ truth-default

David E. Clementson & Xie, T. (Grady ADPR Ph.D. grad). (2022). “Are presidential candidates impervious to deception detection? A test of voters’ truth-default.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 52(4), 728–747. http://doi.org/10.1111/psq.12809

Abstract: This study applies truth-default theory (TDT) to presidential candidates. TDT holds that people tend to passively believe others without consciously considering whether they are being told the truth. But do voters have a truth-default toward presidential candidates? In an experiment, voters across the United States (N = 294) watched a news interview in which a presidential candidate was either honest or deceptive. Party affiliation was also manipulated. Consistent with TDT, thought-listing tasks revealed that most voters did not mention deception after exposure to the presidential campaign interview. Voters largely defaulted to the truth even when sustaining outgroup partisan exposure and deception, and when asked about the candidate’s demeanor. Filling out closed-ended scales, though, voters reported distrust, suspicion, and perceiving deceptive messaging. The discussion concerns the implications of voters’ perceptions of a presidential candidate’s veracity varying based on how voters are prompted.

Open Access: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/psq.12809

David Clementson  Tong Xie 

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