Jaume Masip
Department of Social Psychology and Anthropology

Deception detection from written accounts

Masip, J., Bethencourt, M., Lucas, G., Sánchez-San Segundo, M. & Herrero, C. (2012). Deception detection from written accounts. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 103–111.

Most research into deception detection in written accounts has been conducted on transcripts instead of written messages, and has focused on identifying valid verbal deception correlates instead of also examining untrained readers’ spontaneous lie-detection attempts (accuracy rates, the cues they use, and so on). Also, the question of whether good liars are also good detectors has not been examined using written accounts. In Study 1, 78 participants handwrote a story and then judged the veracity of another participant’s story. Accuracy was at chance level. Good liars were not better detectors than poor liars, but participants who thought they were good liars also thought they were good detectors. The higher the participants’ fluidity scores on a standardized test, the poorer liars they were and the better liars they thought they were. The cues participants said they used were related to their judgments but unrelated to actual veracity. In Study 2, some Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) categories (with the Spanish-language dictionary) permitted a 68% classification rate of the written accounts of Study 1.

Read the full paper at the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology site.

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