Older people not good liars - Otago study

A University of Otago study suggests the ability to recognise deceit may wear down with age, making older people less able to lie or recognise they are being lied to.

University of Otago department of psychology researchers Ted Ruffman, Janice Murray and Jamin Halberstadt compared young and old adults' skills at deception as judged by listeners within and outside their age group.

The results of the lie detection test showed both young and old listeners found it easier to differentiate truths and lies when the speaker was an older adult compared to a young adult, Associate Professor Halberstadt said.

Video clips of 20 people - 10 aged 30 or under and 10 aged more than 60 -- expressing their actual or false views on topical issues were shown to participants. Two clips of each speaker were shown, one in which they were lying and the other being truthful.

The listeners, of two equal-sized groups with average ages of 21 and 71, were asked to determine if the person in each clip was being truthful or lying. They also underwent tests that required judgments of emotional expression and age in faces.

Lying placed demands on memory and planning ability and on social understanding. The findings related to similar findings on older people's inability to detect social gaffes and older men's tendencies to ramble and go off topic when talking, Prof Halberstadt said.

"We still don't know what exactly allows listeners to correctly detect lies, although we know that people can differentiate lies and truth at a rate above chance level, though they are far from perfect."

Prof Halberstadt said it would be interesting to study whether older adults' difficulties telling and detecting lies affected their susceptibility to fraud schemes and their general social well-being.

"As well as problems arising from being more easily deceived, a reduced ability to tell white lies that spare others' feelings may impair their relationships, for example."

The findings are to be published in US journal Psychology and Aging. Dr Murray presented the study today at the Association of Psychological Science's annual convention in Washington, DC.



Cultural standards

Some people get narrower with age.  In my experience far more or them get over caring a lot about harmless oddness in others.  They have seen so many changes in manners and styles and in the end, meh.

Rambling old men

Regarding "older men's tendencies to ramble and go off topic when
talking" - what's the point of surviving to old age if you can't get up on your hind legs and bore people senseless now and then?  And then there are the ones who have gathered a fund of interesting observations and memories that enrich their "ramblings" with insights, humorous as well and astute, about the side issues that may not be "to the point" of those who do not want to learn anything outside the strict agenda.

Disclaimer:  I'm an aging rambler who enjoyed the company of older people since I was a kid because of the things they knew that I didn't, and never would if it weren't for the experiences they shared with me.


Oh please

Is this an extension of the study that found older people were socially inept and politically incorrect because they couldn't decipher the ludicrous innuendo in an American sitcom? These researchers are not accounting for differences in cultural norms between someone who grew up 60-70 years ago and those who experience a different set of cultural standards now. Come on people, leave the oldies alone.