Where did they go wrong? An analysis of the failure of knowledgeable Internet consumers to detect deception over the internet

This paper uses an information-processing model of deception detection to understand the reasons underlying Internet consumers’ success and failure at detecting forms of intentional deception that occur on the Internet. Eighty MBA students visited either a real commercial site or a deceptive copycat (“page-jacking”) site. The deceptive site was identical to the clean site except that it contained six deceptive manipulations (e.g., forged favorable quotes from authoritative sources). This study compares the information processing behavior of four groups of subjects: those who detected the deception, those who missed it, those who correctly identified the real site as non-deceptive, and those who incorrectly believed that the real site was deceptive. It was found that (1) priming subjects to generate the hypothesis of deception weakly facilitates detection success, (2) competence at evaluating the hypothesis of deception is a strong differentiator between successful and unsuccessful detectors, and (3) successful detectors rely on “assurance” cues and heavily discount “trust” cues. Unsuccessful detectors do the opposite.