Timothy R. Levine

Distinguished Professor & Chair of Communication Studies, University of Alabama at Birmingham

My expertise involves topics of deception detection, interpersonal communication skills, credibility assessment & enhancement, interrogation, and persuasion/influence. 

Student, media, and consulting inquiries are welcome.

Research Highlights

My primary program of research focuses on deception and deception detection. My current ideas on the topic are integrated in a view I call Truth Default Theory. However, my research interests are diverse. This page provides a sample of some of my research including some of my most widely known works and some of my personal favorites. Links are provided for key articles.


Relationship Closeness Jayson Dibble, Hee Sun Park and I created and validated a scale to measure relationship closeness across relationship types. The scale performs really well, and is free for use in all academic research.

 Dibble, J. L., Levine, T. R., & Park, H. S. (2012). The unidimensional relationship closeness scale (URCS): Reliability and validity evidence for a new measure of relationship closeness. Psychological Assessment, 24, 565-572.


Honest Demeanor  There are large individual differences in the appearance of sincerity. Some people tend to be believed by virtually everyone. Other people provoke suspicion in others. The thing is, how sincere a person comes off has little to do with how sincere they appear to others. Our work on honest demeanor shows how the appearance of honesty generalizes across audiences and even cultures. We also identify and cross validate 11 indicators of a sincere self-presentation that function as a gestalt. The honest demeanor index is copyrighted and propriety. It may be used only with my permission. Contact me if interested.

 Levine, T. R., Serota, K. B. Shulman, H., Clare, D. D., Park, H. S., Shaw, A. S., Shim, J. C., & Lee, J. H. (2011). Sender demeanor: Individual differences in sender believability have a powerful impact on deception detection judgments. Human Communication Research, 37, 377-403.


Verbal Aggressiveness and Argumentativeness Scales Michael Beatty, Mike Kotowski and I have a series of studies on the Infante et al. verbal aggressiveness and argumentativeness scales. Our findings are that the VAS is multidimensional and the ARG scale is unidimensional. Both scales tend to correlate much more highly with self-reported communication than observed aggressive or argumentative behavior.

Levine, T. R., Kotowski, M. R., Beatty, M. J., & Van Kelegom, M. J. (2012). A meta-analysis of trait-behavior correlations in argumentativeness and verbal aggression. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 31, 95-111.

Kotowski, M. R., Levine, T. R., Baker, C., & Bolt, J. (2009). A multi-trait multi-method validity assessment of the verbal aggressiveness and a argumentativeness scales. Communication Monographs, 76, 443-462.

Levine, T. R., Beatty, M. J., Limon, S., Hamilton, M. A., Buck, R., & Chory-Asada, R. M. (2004). The dimensionality of the verbal aggressiveness scale. Communication Monographs, 71, 245-268.


Friends with Benefits My MA student, Melissa Bisson, did her thesis on friends with benefits. It was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior and received media coverage in the New York Times

Bisson, M. A., & Levine, T. R. (2009). Negotiating a friends with benefits relationship. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 66-73.


 Lie Acceptability Scale   Want to measure individual differences in lie acceptability?  Here you will find a scale and the validation research. It is free for use in all academic research.

Oliveira, C. M. & Levine, T. R. (2008). Lie Acceptability: A construct and measure. Communication Research Reports, 25, 282-288.


Fear Appeals in Africa / Equivalence Testing Nythia Muthusamy did her dissertation (under my direction) on the use of fear arousing messages to promote HIV prevention in Africa. She pointed out that theoretically, fear appeals should not work under conditions of high levels of pre-existing fear. This is just what she found. The study also involves the first ever use of equivalence testing in a major communication journal.

Muthuswamy, N., Levine, T. R., & Weber, R. (2009). Scaring the already scared: Some problems with HIV/AIDS fear appeals in Africa. Journal of Communication, 59, 317-344.


Involvement & Persuasion Involvement is clearly an important variable in persuasion, but its role and its effects are not always clear. In Social Judgment Theory involvement increases resistance to persuasion while in dual process theories like ELM involvement facilitates the effectiveness of strong argument. Hee Sun Park thought that persuasion type (attitude change vs. attitude creation) might be a moderator. We designed an experiment investing persuasion type and involvement types (outcome vs. value relevant) under conditions of strong and weak argument. To our surprise, argument strength ruled the day.

Park, H. S., Levine, T. R., Kingsley, C. Y., Orfgen, T., & Foregger, S. (2007). The effects of argument quality and involvement type on attitude formation and change: A test of dual process and social judgment predictions. Human Communication Research, 33, 81-102.


NHST I have become interested in the history, logic, and social practice of statistical inference in the social sciences. This led me to essays providing a critique of modern significance testing, advice on best practices, a meta-meta-analysis documenting a negative correlation between sample size and effect size that I argue stems from confirmation bias, and a defense of publishing non-significant findings.

Levine, T. R., Weber, R., Hullett, C. R., Park, H. S., & Lindsey, L. (2008). A Critical Assessment of Null Hypothesis Significance Testing in Quantitative Communication Research. Human Communication Research, 34, 171-187.

Levine, T. R., Weber, R., Park, H. S., & Hullett, C. R. (2008). A Communication Researchers Guide to Null Hypothesis Significance Testing and Alternatives. Human Communication Research, 34, 188-209.

Levine, T. R. (2013). A defense of publishing nonsignificant (ns) results. Communication Research Reports, 30, 270-274.

Levine, T. R., Asada, K. J., & Carpenter, C. (2009). Sample size and effect size are negatively correlated in meta-analysis: Evidence and implications of a publication bias against non-significant findings. Communication Monographs, 76, 286-302.


Placebo Control Experiments Placebo control experiments are unusual in communication research. I have done two that are pretty cool. The first, Levine et al., 2005, tested the effects of training in nonverbal cues on deception detection accuracy against both placebo and no training controls. The placebo produced improvements equivalent in magnitude to the average improvement from nonverbal training in meta-analysis. The second experiment (Duff et al.) tested various treatments for communication apprehension against a creative placebo (thanks to Michael Beatty for the idea). The placebo led to as good or better outcomes as the treatments.

Levine, T. R., Feeley, T., McCornack, S. A., Harms, C., & Hughes, M. (2005). Testing the effects of nonverbal training on deception detection accuracy with the inclusion of a bogus train control group. Submitted to Western Journal of Communication, 69, 203-218.

Duff, D. C., Levine, T. R., Beatty, M. J., Woobright, J, & Park, H. S. (2007). Testing Public Anxiety Treatments Against a Credible Placebo Control. Communication Education, 56, 72-88.


 Norms vs. Expectations One of my personal favorite experiments used an experiment to un-confound the effects of norms and expectations. Usually, of course, we expect normative behavior and non-normative actions are also unexpected. Nevertheless, norms and expectations are conceptually and empirically distinct.

Levine, T. R., Anders, L. N., Banas, J., Baum, K. L., Endo, K., Hu, A. D. S., & Wong, N. C. H. (2000). Norms, expectations, and deception: A norm violation model of veracity judgments. Communication Monographs, 67, 123-137.


 Norms and Culture as Multi-level Constructs Some important social scientific ideas are inherently extra-individual in nature and cannot be adequately understood or studied at the level of the individual. I have recently argued that both norms (Shulman & Levine) and culture (Park et al.) are like this. Both reflect convergence among aggregates of people.

Shulman, H., & Levine, T. R. (2012). Exploring social norms as a group-level phenomenon: Do political participation norms exist and influence political participation on college campuses? Journal of Communication, 62, 532-552.

Park, H. S., Levine, T. R., Weber, R., Lee, H., Terra, L. I., Botero, I. C., Bessarabova, E., Guan, X., Shearman, S., & Wilson, M. S. (2012). Individual and cultural variations in direct communication style. International Journal of Intercultural Relations. (Published online first, January 2012).


Some other noteworthy papers of mine:

Levine, T. R. (2011). Quantitative social science methods of inquiry. In M. Knapp & J. Daley (Eds). Handbook of Interpersonal Communication. Sage. 

Levine, T. R. & Kim, R. K. (2010). Some considerations for a new theory of deceptive communication. In M. Knapp & M. McGlone (Eds). The Interplay of Truth and Deception (pp. 16-34). Routledge. 

Levine, T., R., Bresnahan, M., Park, H. S., Lapinski, M. K., Wittenbaum, G., Shearman, S., Lee, S. Y., Chung, D. H., & Ohashi, R. (2003).  Self-construals scales lack validity. Human Communication Research, 29, 210-252. 

Bresnahan, B. J., Levine, T. R., Shearman, S., Lee, S. Y., Park, C. Y., & Kiyomiya, T. (2005). A multimethod-multitrait validity assessment of self-construal in Japan, Korea, and the U.S. Human Communication Research, 31, 33-59.

Levine, T. R., & Boster, F. J. (2001). The effects of power and message variables on compliance. Communication Monographs, 68, 28-48. 

Levine, T. R., & McCroskey, J. C. (1990). Measuring trait communication apprehension: A test of rival measurement models of the PRCA-24. Communication Monographs, 57, 62-72. 

Levine, T. R., & Hullett, C. (2002). Eta-square, partial eta-square, and misreporting of effect size in communication research. Human Communication Research, 28, 612-625.