Behavioral Cues to Deception vs. Topic Incriminating Potential in Criminal Confessions

Martha Davis, Keith A. Markus, Stan B. Walters, Neal Vorus and Brenda Connors
Law and Human Behavior 29(6), pp 683 – 704, December 2005

Coding statements of criminal suspects facilitated tests of four hypotheses about differences between behavioral cues to deception and the incriminating potential (IP) of the topic. Information from criminal investigations corroborated the veracity of 337 brief utterances from 28 videotaped confessions. A four-point rating of topic IP measured the degree of potential threat per utterance. Cues discriminating true vs. false comprised word/phrase repeats, speech disfluency spikes, nonverbal overdone, and protracted headshaking. Non-lexical sounds discriminated true vs. false inthe reverse direction. Cues that distinguished IP only comprised speech speed, gesticulation amount, nonverbal animation level, soft weak vocal and “I (or we) just” qualifier. Adding “I don’t know” to an answer discriminated both IP and true vs. false. The results supported hypothesis about differentiating deception cues from incriminating potential cues in high-stakes interviews, and suggested that extensive research on distinctions between stress-related cues and cues to deception would improve deception detection.

One thought on “Behavioral Cues to Deception vs. Topic Incriminating Potential in Criminal Confessions”

  1. Have you (or someone you know) been lied to?

    I am a PhD researcher based at Imperial College (London), currently looking for London based people who have been lied to on something high-stakes (e.g. job loss, extra-marital relationship) and who are willing to confront the person who has lied in front of a video camera. The aim of the experiment is to produce quality video data for behaviour analysis research.

    Key Requirements for Experiment:
    (1) Both the person who has been lied to and the person who has lied will be asked by the experimenter to agree in writing that they are happy to be confronted in front of a videocamera for research purposes on an unresolved matter which is likely to generate emotional stress
    (2) The person who has been lied to will be required to arrange a date for the interview with the person who has lied and get his/her written consent to take part to the experiment

    (3) The person who has been lied to will be required to help the experimenter prepare a number of questions forcing the other person to lie

    (4) The person who has been lied to will be required to provide evidence, better if in the form of emails or photos, of the true facts, so that the ground truth can be established before the interview takes place

    (5)The person who has been lied to will be asked by the experimenter to label the answers (i.e to mark which answers are “deceptive” and which answers are “truthful”).

    To propose your case, simply email dente_enrica@yahoo.co.uk. A short discussion will follow to evaluate if a valid experiment can be carried out around your proposed case.

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