Detecting deceit from idiosyncratic deception clues

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University of New Brunswick


Lie detection research is largely driven by the proposition that lying is experienced differently than truth-telling in terms of emotional discomfort, cognitive load, and behavioural control. These experiences are believed to moderate changes in expressive nonverbal behaviour that occur during deception. Many assumptions that underlie theories of lie detection have gone untested. In this study, 61 participants completed a personality packet and then lied and told the truth about their attitudes concerning contentious social issues. Following each interview, participants completed a questionnaire concerning their perceived level of discomfort, cognitive load, and behavioural control. Results indicated that participants experienced deception differently from truth telling. Furthermore, personality contributed to the experience of deception. Detailed analyses revealed idiosyncrasies in behavioural clues and multiple behaviours were more useful than any single behavioural clue. Taken together these results suggest that researchers should focus on constellations of behavioural clues, rather than focusing on individual behaviours.