Paige Lloyd: Research Shows Race’s Affects on Lie Detection

Paige Lloyd (‘13), visited her Alma Mater this past Thursday to share her compelling research about racial bias and how it influences our views of trustworthiness. Graduate of the University of Denver, Lloyd specializes in social inequality, interpersonal sensitivity, stereotypes, prejudice, etc. 

“If I really told you what it meant to have Paige here today I might start crying,” Psychology Professor Clifford Brown said while introducing his former student. 

Professors and students across many disciplines of study gathered to hear her presentation. Facing a full room, Lloyd started her presentation with a daunting image of various faces of members of minority groups who have been victims of social injustices in rape and sexual assault cases, violent crime and malpractice. 

“Black Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police,” Lloyd said. “Blacks also make up 50% of false convictions.” 

Lloyd’s research started off with various lie detection tests across race. She arranged for her subjects to watch short video clips of individuals across race, gender and age telling stories about issues with interpersonal relationships. Some of the videos were true, while others were false. The objective was to decide which stories were true and which were false. The results were shocking, to say the least. 

Lloyd explained that there tends to be an “own race advantage” in that those white subjects watching videos of same race individuals were more likely to believe their stories due to heightened emotional recognition, smile authenticity and anxiety detection. The results of the first study seemed to prove this theory. White participants were more likely to correctly identify lies told by white individuals than black individuals. Ironically, both black and white participants performed more accurately viewing white individuals than black individuals. 

According to Lloyd, these results are partially due to whites trying to avoid looking prejudiced against blacks, so they overcompensate and whites used the truth response far more often for blacks than whites. 

Another one of Lloyd’s fascinating studies on this topic regarded pain and our perceptions of genuine or fake pain with regard to race. Subjects were shown videos of individuals who were experiencing both real and fake pain (those who experienced real pain were subject to a tool that slowly increased pressure to your hand until the subject pressed a button to stop the pressure). 

The results showed that white subjects were much more likely to correctly identify real pain in videos of white individuals than blacks. This study showed an overwhelming inability for whites to discern pain in minority groups. Even after extending the level of pain felt by using pictures of soccer players who were also experiencing both real and fake pain, subjects still performed better for white players than black players. 

Even more shockingly, a follow-up experiment asking medical professionals the level of medical help that these same soccer players would need continued to show the overwhelming inability to detect minority pain. The results showed that the medical professionals gave black players the same treatment despite the severity of their injury. In fact, black players received overall less treatment for both real and fake injuries than white players. 

Lloyd’s ended her presentation by again showing the photos of those victims of social injustices. 

“I hope that you all not only enjoyed my presentation but that it made you uncomfortable,” Lloyd said. “Sexual assault, rape and racism are uncomfortable topics but I hope these results will show you just how important it is to talk about them more.”

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