ChapterPDF Available

The Reciprocal Nature of Lying and Memory: Memory Confabulation and Diagnostic Cues to Deception



The ability to deceive others relies on the use of cognitive processes to construct a believable falsehood and maintain that lie over time. In this chapter, we discuss research that documents how the act of lying can influence the content of liars’ memories for the occasions when they lied and memories of the original experience. In addition, we describe how an understanding of memory processes can be a tool for uncovering deception. For instance, the content of memories of actual and fabricated events differ in characteristic ways, and people can be trained to utilize these features to discriminate between them. Furthermore, it possible to magnify differences in the reports of liars’ and truth-tellers’ to increase detection. Memory can play a critical role in catching liars.
The Reciprocal Nature of Lying and Memory:
Memory Confabulation and Diagnostic Cues to Deception
Rachel E. Dianiska1, Daniella K. Cash2, Sean M. Lane2, & Christian A. Meissner1
1Iowa State University, 2 Louisiana State University
The ability to deceive others relies on the use of cognitive processes to construct a believable
falsehood and maintain that lie over time. In this chapter, we discuss research that documents
how the act of lying can influence the content of liars’ memories for the occasions when they
lied and memories of the original experience. In addition, we describe how an understanding of
memory processes can be a tool for uncovering deception. For instance, the content of memories
of actual and fabricated events differ in characteristic ways, and people can be trained to utilize
these features to discriminate between them. Furthermore, it possible to magnify differences in
the reports of liars’ and truth-tellers’ to increase detection. Memory can play a critical role in
catching liars.
Keywords: Lying, false memory, source memory, deception detection, criteria-based content
analysis, cognitive load
The Reciprocal Nature of Lying and Memory:
Memory Confabulation and Diagnostic Cues to Deception
To the layperson, recalling from memory would seem fairly straightforward – if a person
remembers an event, surely it must have occurred and will be reported accurately; however, the
literature is replete with examples in which our own memory deceives us. For instance, could a
person misremember having their aircraft shot down in Iraq? Such a distinctive event would be
memorable to whomever experienced it. Yet, in 2015, a highly respected NBC News reporter,
Brian Williams, retracted multiple, sometimes conflicting, narratives involving an aircraft that he
was in (or an accompanying aircraft) coming under fire and being forced to make an emergency
landing in Iraq. Later investigation revealed that the aircraft did not come under fire or incur
damage, forcing Williams to recant his statement and receive a six-month suspension (Steel &
Somaiya, 2015).
The initial reaction to this recantation appeared to be disbelief that a news anchor would
lie about something so easily verifiable. Rather than making a conscious decision to provide a
wholesale fabrication, Williams’ memory of the attack could have been created by smaller
embellishments to the story that were enhanced through each retelling. Similar to fishing stories
where the prized fish that was caught increases in size with each retelling, elaboration of the
story over time may have allowed Williams to create a visually compelling memory that he
would later recall and offer in future retellings, ultimately leading to a persuasive, albeit
incorrect, memory of coming under fire.
Williams’ story is one example of how the act of lying can influence a person’s memory
for an event or for the lie one tells. In this chapter, we first discuss research that documents how
the act of lying can influence the content of liars’ memories for the occasions when they lied and
memories of the original experience. But an understanding of memory processes can be useful
for uncovering deception as well. For instance, the content of memories of actual and fabricated
events differ in characteristic ways, and people can be trained to utilize these features to
discriminate between them. Furthermore, it is possible to magnify differences in the reports of
liars’ and truth-tellers’ to increase detection. We will discuss these issues in the second half of
the chapter.
The Influence of Lying on Memory
While the deception detection literature has primarily focused on the ability to detect
false statements and accurately discriminate them from truthful statements (e.g., Bond &
DePaulo, 2006), recent theoretical and empirical work has begun to examine whether the act of
lying itself might influence one’s memory for an event. Evidence suggests that the type of lie can
both affect how well the act of lying is remembered, and whether a false memory is created
(Lane, Dianiska, & Cash, in preparation; Otgaar, Howe, Memon, & Wang, 2014; Otgaar, Howe,
Smeets, & Wang, 2016; Polage, 2004; Polage, 2012; Vieira & Lane, 2013). Additionally, factors
such as repetition of the lie (akin to Brian William’s retelling of the Iraq narrative) can
independently influence memory (e.g., Vieira & Lane, 2013). To avoid detection, a liar must
remember that they lied, as well as what they said while lying. Forgetting that one lied could lead
people to later contradict themselves and thus get caught. In this section, we discuss two
different types of lies (confabulations and denials), their potential effects on memory based on
the source monitoring framework (SMF; Johnson, Hashtroudi, & Lindsay, 1993), and the
available studies examining this interface between lying and memory.
Two Types of Lying - Confabulations and False Denials
Confabulations refer to lies that involve a person describing a specific event or
experience as if it had occurred. As discussed above, it is plausible that Brian Williams created
small modifications to his story, perhaps based on his knowledge of other similar incidents that
had occurred in Iraq. Of course, people create much more extensive fabrications, for instance,
when a criminal describes his or her whereabouts for a period of time during which a crime
occurred (i.e., an alibi). As we discuss in the next section, the fact that confabulations require
constructive mental processes (although to varying degrees) has implications for how well these
types of lies are remembered.
False denials refer to lies in which a person says that an event never occurred, despite the
fact that the event truly did take place. This type of lie has the advantage of not requiring the liar
to fabricate new details, and consequently, typically requires less effort to produce than a
confabulation. Although there are a number of contextual variables that can potentially affect
the choice of a lie type, the literature does suggest that certain forensic interviewing techniques
may be more likely to elicit denials. For instance, accusatorial interviews in which suspects are
confronted with accusations are likely to foster denials, both truthful and false, from interviewees
(e.g., Vrij & Granhag, 2012). In contrast, inquisitorial interviews, that typically involve more
open-ended questions, are more likely to elicit extended answers (see Meissner, Kelly, &
Woestehoff, 2015 for an extended discussion of the differences between these interview types).
Confabulations and false denials differ to the extent that effortful, constructive mental
processing is required. This difference affects the ability of liars to correctly ascertain whether
they lied about a specific fact or event – source monitoring.
A Source Monitoring Perspective
The ability to determine the origin of a memory is called source monitoring. Examples
of source monitoring include remembering whether your Uncle Bill or your father told you a
particular story, whether you or a friend came up with an idea for a new business, or whether
your memory of an event derives from actually being there or having imagined it. The source
monitoring framework (SMF; Johnson et al., 1993) describes how such decisions are made. In
this view, memories are composed of features that reflect the conditions under which they were
encoded. On average, memories from different sources differ in the amount or type of features
they contain, and this can be used to successfully discriminate them. For example, memories of
perceived events (i.e., externally derived) tend to contain more perceptual (e.g., color, shape) and
contextual (e.g., location and time) features, whereas memories of events that were imagined
tend to contain features created by the act of constructing the image (e.g., cognitive operations),
and fewer perceptual and contextual features. However, source monitoring decisions are not
foolproof. Errors in source monitoring may arise when encoding is impaired in a way that limits
the mnemonic cues (i.e., features) available at retrieval, or to the extent there is similarity
between two or more sources (see Lindsay, 2008). In general, the accuracy of source monitoring
decisions is dependent upon the information available at the time of the memory decision, and
the circumstances of the source-monitoring judgment.
The source monitoring framework provides insight into how producing a confabulation
or a false denial might influence one’s later memory. Falsely describing an event, particularly if
relatively elaborated, involves effortful constructive processing, and thus increases the
availability of information about cognitive operations in the resulting memory trace. Note too,
that an elaborated confabulation could also include described perceptual and contextual detail
that would have been present if the liar had actually experienced an event. This latter
information, if remembered at a later time, could mislead the person into thinking they had
experienced the event (i.e., create a false memory). However, if the person also had access to
information about cognitive operations, this would allow them to reject the notion that the event
occurred because they remember creating the falsehood. Thus, the constructive process of
generating a false description may ultimately prevent a liar from believing his or her own lies
(Polage, 2004; Vieira & Lane, 2013). Of course, if the liar does not remember this construction,
they are likely to end up believing his or her own lie. This is a likely explanation of Brian
Williams’ experience.
The low effort required to produce a denial has different consequences. Because there is
no need to construct additional detail to persuade someone of its veracity, this means that there is
little information about cognitive operations in memory. Because of this, liars are less likely to
be able to remember that they had made a denial. However, the lack of elaboration also means
that their memory is less likely to contain misleading perceptual and contextual detail. Because
of this, it is less likely that deniers are going to have vivid false memories than confabulators.
The Impact of Lying on Memory
The SMF (Johnson, et al., 1993) provides a number of predictions about liars’ ability to
remember both their lies and the original “event.” These predictions have been explored in a
relatively small number of studies.
Polage (2004; 2012) used a procedure based upon the imagination inflation paradigm
(Garry, Manning, Loftus, & Sherman, 1996) to examine how lying about an unexperienced
childhood event might influence memory for the event. In these experiments, participants were
asked to create detailed false narratives about childhood events that had not happened to them.
Polage (2004) found that after constructing a detailed, believable story about a childhood event
that did not occur, the majority of participants rated their false narratives as less believable, and
were more confident that the events did not happen to them. Presumably, the act of fabricating a
rich narrative account of an unexperienced event produced memories of the cognitive operations
involved in generating those narratives, and participants used these as cues that the memory had
not been experienced. Subsequent research by Polage (2012) found that when source monitoring
ability was poor, either at an individual difference level (Experiment 1) or due to a delay
between the lie generation session and the test session (Experiment 2), people were more likely
to exhibit “fabrication inflation” and believe their self-generated lies. Thus, it appears that false
descriptions may increase false memories about unexperienced events should people fail to
remember generating those descriptions.
Lane and colleagues attempted to evaluate the predictions of SMF in more detail.
Specifically, this research explored a broader set of variables (type of lie and repetition), using a
source memory test that allowed for a more precise characterization of memory for lies and
truth-telling (Lane, Dianiska & Cash, in preparation; Vieira & Lane, 2013). In these studies,
participants first saw a series of objects (Vieira & Lane) or performed a series of actions (Lane,
et al.). Subsequently, they were seated at a computer in front of a video camera. The computer
provided the name of the item or action, and asked them to truthfully or deceptively describe the
item (action) that they had seen (performed), or deny that they had done so. Participants then
either lied or told the truth regarding these items on camera. An equal number of items (actions)
were talked about on camera once or three times (another set of items were seen at encoding, but
were not discussed on camera, and subsequently appeared on the test). Participant ratings after
this phase revealed that they thought the effort required for descriptions was significantly higher
than for denials. After a delay (48 hours in Vieira & Lane, 2013; 1 week in Lane, et al.),
participants were asked to indicate for each item whether they had seen it (performed the action),
whether they had lied or told the truth on camera, and whether they had done so by describing or
denying it.
Findings were consistent with predictions. Participants in all experiments were
substantially less likely to remember their denials than their descriptions. Repetition also
increased source accuracy. With respect to memory errors (i.e., false memories of having seen
pictures or performed an action), there were generally two types of errors. First, repeated
truthful denials increased false memory. In other words, repeatedly denying that you had seen an
item you had not actually seen led you to subsequently falsely remember having seen it.
Furthermore, the results of the later experiments (Lane, et al.) were consistent with the idea that
this error was based on the fact the item had become more familiar and increased guessing.
Second, we found that participants falsely remembered seeing things they had confabulated (this
was particularly true at the longer delay). Additional data was consistent with the notion that
these errors were based more on false recollection of details. Furthermore, repetition did not
increase this type of error, and findings suggested that the lack of an increase was because
repetition increased the likelihood that participants would remember generating the description,
and use this information to reject having seen it.
One argument that has been raised in the literature is whether denials can potentially
impair memory for an original item. For instance, Otgaar and colleagues (Otgaar, Howe,
Memon, & Wang, 2014; Otgaar, Howe, Smeets, & Wang, 2016) examined the influence of false
denials on later memory in both children and adults. When forced to falsely deny details present
in a video (Otgaar et al., 2014) or present in studied pictures (Otgaar et al., 2016) during an
initial interview, individuals were more likely to deny having talked to an experimenter about
those details that were presented. Studies using our paradigm, which is ideal for detecting this
type of impairment because we have control items - “studied” items that are not “rehearsed” (i.e.,
they do not appear in the second phase of the experiment, but are on the final test) - has found no
evidence for such impairment. Across all three experiments (Lane et al., in preparation; Vieira &
Lane, 2013), denials never decrease memory below the level of never-rehearsed items. For
instance, in Vieira and Lane (2013), once-denied items were recognized as having been studied
74% of the time (and 75% for thrice-denied items), while never-rehearsed items were recognized
as having been studied 53% of the time. Thus, items that were denied actually show enhanced
recognition performance.
Section Summary and Implications
As we have seen, the impact of lying on memory is well-predicted by the SMF (Johnson,
et al., 1993) and other basic theories of memory. The results are also consistent with other
related areas of research examining false memory, including eyewitness suggestibility (e.g.,
Loftus, Miller & Burns, 1978; Zaragoza & Lane, 1994) or the effects of fluency (e.g., Jacoby,
Woloshyn, & Kelley, 1989). Despite these strengths, the literature on the topic is relatively
small. To date, this research suggests that the type of lie one tells can influence what one
remembers about an event and the act of lying. The constructive processes associated with
creating an elaborated confabulation tend to increase the likelihood that the lie will be
remembered relative to lying by a brief denial. Note that this does not mean that denials are
always poorly remembered relative to confabulations. SMF predicts that the key issue is the
constructive processing required by the lie. To the extent a denial requires more effortful
processing (e.g., an elaborated claim of why someone could not have committed a crime),
memory should also be enhanced. Results have also demonstrated that lying can also lead to
false memories, and these false memories can arise from different mechanisms. For example, it
appears repeated truthful denials may increase the fluency of those memories, and that
confabulations appear more vividly remembered when people have forgotten the act of lying.
Despite the relatively small size of the literature, research on lying and memory already
has potential implications for forensic contexts. Memory is required to maintain lies. During a
criminal investigation, for instance, it is common for witnesses and suspects to be interviewed
multiple times (Fisher, 1995). Furthermore, liars often maintain a strategy whereby they attempt
to appear consistent (and thus not arouse suspicion) by trying to provide the same account across
multiple statements (Fisher, Vrij, & Leins, 2013). Results suggest that interviewers may be able
to take advantage of the fact that suspects are less likely to remember having denied having done
something than if they produce a more elaborated characterization of their whereabouts. These
studies also suggest potential concerns for the interview room, as innocent, truthful interviewees
may begin to doubt the veracity of their own claims after repeated denials (see Henkel &
Coffman, 2004, for a similar suggestion).
The Implications of Memory and Cognition for Detecting Deceit
Research on the ability to discriminate lies from truths has demonstrated that lie detection
is a difficult, and not particularly accurate, task. When classifying truth-tellers and liars, people
tend hover around chance performance, showing a 53% accuracy rate across studies (Bond &
DePaulo, 2006). Trained professionals in law enforcement demonstrate similar accuracy rates in
detecting lies from truths, though with considerable overconfidence in their ability to do so (e.g.,
Meissner & Kassin, 2002). Part of the reason for this near-chance accuracy could be that the
verbal and nonverbal cues that investigators are trained to use (and what lay people believe are
reliable indicators) are not indicative of veracity. In 2003, DePaulo and colleagues examined 158
behavioral indicators of deception and found that only a minority of those cues were
significantly, although weakly, related to deception. The cues that were most diagnostic of
deception, such as level of detail and logical structure, were primarily cognitive and memory-
based. Additionally, only a few nonverbal (Sporer & Schwandt, 2007) and paraverbal (Sporer &
Schwandt, 2006) cues have been shown to be reliably associated with deception.
Popular training programs that advocate using nonverbal cues to improve deception
detection may bias investigators to judge targets as overly deceitful (Meissner & Kassin, 2002;
Kassin, Meissner, & Norwick, 2005). Further, while training itself has been shown to improve
the ability to detect deception, a meta-analysis of available studies suggests that the most
successful training programs focus on verbal content and memory-based cues (see Hauch,
Sporer, Michael, & Meissner, 2016). Theoretical frameworks that consider memory and source
monitoring have been used to further develop approaches that focus on more diagnostic cues to
deception, including Criteria-Based Content Analysis and Reality Monitoring.
Researchers have also begun to translate an understanding of the cognitive processes
involved in deception into interviewing approaches that can be used to magnify differences
between liars and truth tellers. For example, interviewing techniques that manipulate the
cognitive load of liars and truth-tellers, such as recalling a story in reverse order, or techniques
that serve to enhance one’s memory, such as the Cognitive Interview, can be employed to
enhance indicators of deception (Vrij & Granhag, 2012; Fisher & Geiselman, 1992). In a recent
meta-analysis, Vrij, Fisher, and Blank (2017) showed that compared to standard interviewing
approaches, these cognitive lie detection approaches increase both truth and lie detection. In this
section we begin by reviewing the research literature on approaches to detect deception via the
memorial content of a person’s statement, followed by a discussion of interviewing approaches
that manipulate cognitive load and memory-based cues.
Detection via Lie Content
Researchers have begun to focus on the content of statements that interviewees provide
as a way of discriminating liars and truth tellers. Based on the assumption that a statement
derived from an actual experience (or memory) is characteristically different from a statement
derived from an imagined (or invented) event (the Undeutsch hypothesis; Steller, 1989), two
related sets of criteria have been developed to analyze the veracity of verbal statements. The first
set of criteria were developed as part of the Statement Validity Analysis tool to distinguish true
and false allegations of sexual abuse by children (Steller & Köhnken, 1989). Criteria-Based
Content Analysis (CBCA) uses a present/absent judgment of interview statements across 19
criteria believed to be indicative of truth-tellers: thirteen of these criteria include indicators of
veracity that would be difficult to fabricate for someone who did not genuinely experience the
event, five are associated with a truthful person’s motivation, and a final criterion is related to
offense-specific information.
In general, CBCA assumes that true statements are more likely to be coherent, presented
in non-chronological order, and contain greater quantities of detail than false statements. The
types of detail specific to true statements include contextual embeddings (such as references to
temporal or spatial details), descriptions of interactions, and reproductions of conversations.
People being deceptive are more likely to be concerned with appearing truthful, so truthful
statements are ironically more likely to contain information inconsistent with what an
interviewer may believe as truthfulness. For example, a truthful statement is associated with
spontaneous corrections and admitted lack of memory – both of which investigators more
typically associate with deception. In a review of the literature, CBCA criteria were reliably
more present in children’s (Amado, Arce, & Fariña, 2015) and adult’s (Amado, Arce, Fariña, &
Vilariño, 2016) truthful statements than in fabricated statements. In children, all CBCA criteria
were significantly discriminative of truthful and fabricated accounts, with the largest effects from
the criteria quantity of details and details characteristic of the offense. All but two CBCA criteria
were predictive in adults, with the quantity of details criterion again associated with the largest
effect size.
A second approach to identifying criteria was derived from research on how people
attribute memories to external sources (i.e., experienced) versus internal sources (i.e., imagined).
This process, termed reality monitoring (Johnson & Raye, 1981), can be used for both personal
and interpersonal (i.e., judgments of whether other people have truly experienced a remembered
event) reality monitoring decisions (e.g., Sporer & Sharman, 2006; Sporer, 2004). These
judgments are based on evaluations of qualitative differences in the amount of sensory,
perceptual, temporal, and spatial details present in a narrative. Memories of real experiences are
likely to contain more perceptual and contextual details, given the presence of perceptual
processes at encoding. In contrast, memories of imagined events that are internally derived are
likely to contain more cognitive operations, such as thoughts and inferences made about the
event. Empirical support for characteristics of internally derived events appears to be weak,
whereas criteria associated with real experiences, such as contextual information and realism, are
more discriminant of lies and truths (Masip, Sporer, Garrido, & Herrero, 2005; Memon, Fraser,
Colwell, Odino, & Mastroberardino, 2010).
Recently, researchers have worked to integrate different sets of criteria to create a
theoretically and empirically-based credibility assessment tool. Comprised of cues derived from
CBCA, reality monitoring, and other theories of deception, the Assessment Criteria Indicative of
Deception (ACID; Colwell, Hiscock-Anisman, Memon, Taylor, & Prewett, 2007) and
Psychologically-Based Credibility Assessment Tool (PBCAT; Evans, Michael, Meissner, &
Brandon, 2013; Evans & Michael, 2014) have been shown to guide users toward more reliable
cues to deception and therein increase discrimination accuracy. In conjunction with an interview
tactic that increases cognitive load and requires multiple recall attempts (discussed below), the
ACID assessment tool can be used to compare the unique external, contextual, and internal
details provided by interviewees during each phase of the interview. Training a variety of
forensic professionals (Colwell et al., 2012) and police officers (Colwell, James-Kangal,
Hiscock-Anisman, & Phelan, 2015) on the use of ACID has led to significant improvements in
detection accuracy. Similarly, use of the PBCAT has been shown to increase accurate
discrimination of true and false alibi statements, particularly when those statements are elicited
by techniques that enhance cognitive load (Evans et al., 2013; Evans & Michael, 2014).
A final content cue to discriminate between lies and truths focuses on a liar’s information
dilemma – providing enough detail to appear truthful and escape suspicion, but not too many
details that might further an investigation. To overcome these competing motivations, liars
appear to provide more unverifiable details over details that could be verified. Nahari, Vrij, and
Fisher (2014) found that discrimination of liars and truth-tellers based upon the number of
verifiable details (versus unverifiable details, or a combination of the two) led to better
discrimination. The utility of verifiable details has also been examined in the context of alibi
witnesses (Nahari & Vrij, 2014) and insurance claims (Harvey, Vrij, Nahari, & Ludwig, 2017;
Nahari, Leal, Vrij, & Warmelink, 2014).
Cognitive Load Techniques
Compared to truth-telling, lying is a more cognitively-demanding task. In addition to
generating the lie with enough detail to be plausible and convincing, a liar must simultaneously
inhibit the automatically-activated truth response. Further, a liar will be burdened by monitoring
his or her own behavior, as well as assessing the interviewer’s behavior to ensure that they are
being believed (see Vrij, 2015, for a review). In this context, lying requires considerable
cognitive resources and therein takes more time than telling the truth (Suchotzki et al., 2017). A
truth teller, in contrast, is more likely to believe in the power of his or her innocence (Kassin &
Norwick, 2004) and therein may be less concerned about appearing innocent.
To the extent that lying is more cognitively demanding, considerable research has shown
that an interviewer can implement techniques during an interview to exploit differences in the
amount of cognitive load experienced by interviewees and therein magnify the cues produced by
liars (when compared with truth tellers; see Vrij et al., 2017). Techniques that have been shown
to improve discrimination include having interviewees recall a story in reverse order (Evans et
al., 2013; Vrij et al., 2008), instructing interviewees to maintain eye contact with an interviewer
(Vrij, Mann, Leal, & Fisher, 2010), asking interviewees to complete a secondary task while
telling their stories (Debey, Verschuere, & Crombez, 2012; Visu-Petra, Varga, Miclea, & Visu-
Petra, 2013), or forcing two or more interviewees to ‘take turns’ when they are interviewed at the
same time (Vernham, Vrij, Mann, Leal, & Hillman, 2014). In addition to being assessed
empirically, these techniques have also been successfully taught to investigators (Vrij, Mann,
Leal, Vernham, & Vaughan, 2016).
Evans et al. (2013) examined the cues present in liars and truth tellers when telling their
stories in forward chronological order and reverse chronological order (see also Vrij et al., 2008).
Compared to those interviewed in forward order, liars recalling in reverse order rated the
experience as more cognitively demanding. Further, the instruction to recall in reverse order
enhanced cues to deception associated with memory and cognition, such as liars providing fewer
auditory, spatial, and temporal details, providing less plausible accounts, and appearing to
struggle with recalling the event. Naïve observers who were asked to identify liars and truth
tellers were 30% more accurate in the reverse order condition, particularly with respect to
identifying liars.
When given the freedom to choose the content of a lie, liars may choose to report details
from a previously experienced event, rather than fabricate new information (Leins et al., 2013).
As a result, liars who have a prepared story prior to an interview may exhibit fewer cues to deceit
than unprepared liars. One way in which interviewers can overcome a liar’s preparation is to ask
questions that the liar would not have anticipated. In comparing the responses of pairs of liars
and pairs of truth-tellers, Vrij et al. (2009) found that participants’ responses to unexpected
questions, such as those regarding spatial layout (e.g., “where were you in relation to the other
diners?”) and requests to draw a sketch, enhanced discrimination between liars and truth tellers
who had previously had time to rehearse their stories.
Memory-Enhancing Techniques
Given the relationship between memory and certain content cues to deception discussed
previously, researchers have also surmised that interview techniques that work to enhance
memory will also magnify the key differences between liars and truth tellers. Memory-enhancing
techniques that have been assessed include the eye closure instruction (Perfect et al., 2008),
mental reinstatement of context (Smith & Vela, 2001), sketch drawing (Leins, Fisher, Vrij, Leal,
& Mann, 201; Vrij et al., 2010), and providing subjects with a “model” statement about an
unrelated topic (Leal, Vrij, Warmelink, Vernham, & Fisher, 2015).
One of the most effective memory-enhancing interview protocols developed in recent
years is the Cognitive Interview (CI; Fisher & Geiselman, 1992). The CI comprises a set of
retrieval-enhancing mnemonic techniques designed to increase the amount of information
provided by a cooperative witness. The CI is characterized by a retrieval process wherein
witnesses are encouraged to report everything that comes to mind during the recall process, but
to withhold information that they are uncertain of (i.e., guessing). When combined with
mnemonic approaches, context reistatement, and eye closure, this approach leads to large gains
in correct information recalled without a significant impact on accuracy (Memon, Meissner, &
Fraser, 2010). The CI has been assessed in terms of information gain from suspects (e.g., Evans,
Meissner, Ross, Houston, Russano, & Horgan, 2013), as well as distinguishing between true and
false intentions (e.g., Sooniste, Granhag, Strömwall, & Vrij, 2015). Importantly, the CI has also
been shown to improve credibility assessment. Köhnken, Schimossek, Aschermann, and Höfer
(1995) compared true and false statements produced by a cognitive versus a structured interview
with respect to a subset of CBCA criteria. While the CI led to greater amounts of detail overall, it
also improved discrimination of true and false statements based on CBCA criteria. Mnemonic
elements of the CI, such as reverse order recall and drawing a sketch (described above), have
also been shown to both enhance memory recall and improve discrimination of liars and truth
tellers, leading Geiselman (2012) to advocate for use of the CI with suspects.
Another technique found to increase differences between liars and truth-tellers involves
providing subjects with an example statement about an unrelated topic (i.e., a “model statement”;
Leal et al., 2015). Brief statements provide fewer cues to deceit, making it easier for liars to
appear as though they are telling the truth; however, more cognitive content cues should be
present when subjects are encouraged to provide more detailed statements. When truth-tellers
encounter a model statement that offers substantial details, they adjust their expectations of what
the interviewer considers a sufficient level of detail and accordingly provide more information
(Bogaard, Meijer, & Vrij, 2014; Ewens et al., 2016; Leal et al., 2015). Alternatively, liars who
are provided a model statement feel pressure to incorporate more false details into their
narratives. Leal et al. (2015) found that after being exposed to a model statement, respondents
provided statements that were more detailed; however, the details added by liars were less
plausible than truth-tellers. The model statement has also been shown to increase the number of
verifiable details provided by subjects, leading to a 25% increase in the classification accuracy of
liars versus truth tellers (Harvey, Vrij, Leal, Lafferty, & Nahari, 2017).
Forgetting and Statement Consistency
While cognitive load approaches and memory-based techniques are intended to make the
task of lying more challenging and therein enhance the frequency of more diagnostic cues to
deception, it is possible that certain conditions could diminish the frequency of memory-based
cues to deception in truth-tellers’ accounts. For example, when being questioned about an event
that occurred long ago, truth-tellers may not have access to an event memory as a product of
processes such as interference and decay – leading them to offer narratives that lack the most
diagnostic cues to credibility discussed previously. Harvey, Vrij, Leal, Hope, and Mann (2017)
observed that truth-tellers interviewed following a three-week delay disclosed fewer details
about an event compared with those interviewed immediately after the event. Further, truth-
tellers and liars did not differ with respect to the amount of detail reported following the delay. It
is important, therein, that interviewers recognize that certain conditions that diminish memory
quantity and quality, such as significant delays, can lead truth-tellers to appear more like liars.
Inconsistencies are often treated by both laypeople and professionals as an important
indicator of deception; however, research suggests that the relationship between deception and
inconsistency is more nuanced and may depend upon the type of inconsistency present in a
statement (Fisher et al., 2013). Inconsistencies in which information is either added during a
subsequent interview (reminiscence) or omitted at a subsequent interview (forgetting) are more
likely to be accurate than inconsistencies that are contradictory between two interviews. As such,
consistency across statements or across respondents may be more indicative of liars who have
rehearsed their statements. Asking unanticipated questions, as described previously, may offer a
more diagnostic method for identifying liars. Pairs of liars and truth-tellers in Vrij et al. (2009)
were interviewed with both anticipated questions and unanticipated questions after having time
to prepare their answers together. Responses for anticipated questions were much more
consistent across participants, likely due to the pair having had that time to rehearse their
responses; however, responses to unanticipated questions were rather inconsistent across pairs of
liars, providing a diagnostic cue to deception.
Ultimately, reliance upon consistency as an indicator of veracity can lead to
misunderstandings within the criminal justice system. An innocent person who provides an
initially mistaken alibi (due to faulty memory) may experience downstream direct and indirect
effects on his or her likelihood of conviction (Crozier, Strange, & Luke, 2017). A mistaken alibi
that is later corrected, for instance, will often be seen as inconsistent (and therein indicative of
deception) by police officers and triers of fact. Such an inconsistency between statements may
thus draw unwarranted suspicion on the alibi provider, potentially redirecting the course of an
investigation towards an innocent suspect. Herein, it is important that investigators consider the
type of inconsistency and the of memory inherent to the recall attempt – to the extent that
memory enhancing or strategic questioning strategies are applied, misattributions of deception
(and guilt) can be avoided.
Section Summary
The science underlying deception and memory can inform efforts to increase lie detection
accuracy. Research suggests that investigators should attend to the contents of a narrative and the
cognitive operations evoked by the questioning. Further, inducing cognitive load and using
techniques that enhance memory and reporting by the interviewee can enhance the most
diagnostic cues to deception and therein improve judgments of credibility. Focusing on the
elicitation of verifiable details also offers a promising approach to discriminating liars and truth-
tellers, and furthering an investigation.
Brian Williams’ odyssey (he has since returned to the newsroom) illustrates the perils of
even small embellishments on memory for the truth. In his case, it is likely that his memory for
the construction of his narrative faded, while he retained a vivid memory that was the product of
his imagination. Although such memories are problematic, law enforcement or intelligence
professionals typically concern themselves with much more substantial deceit, such as when
someone lies to avoid being charged with a capital crime. It is in this context that we see the
many potential benefits of a deeper understanding of memory and deception. The ability to
deceive others relies on the use of cognitive processes to construct a believable falsehood and
maintain that lie over time. As we have seen, memories of lies are influenced by factors that
include the type of lie that is told and the amount of times that a lie is repeated. In addition, the
content of memories of actual and fabricated events differ in characteristic ways, and people can
be trained to utilize these features to discriminate between them. Furthermore, it is possible to
employ interviewing techniques to magnify differences in the reports of liars’ and truth-tellers’
to increase detection. Altogether, our review also illustrates another important point. Work in
this domain clearly highlights the benefits of a research approach that takes as its foundation
basic research and theory, while considering the constraints inherent in applied settings (Lane &
Meissner, 2008). Understanding memory’s role in deception has and will continue to motivate
better and more nuanced ways of catching liars.
Amado, B. G., Arce, R., & Fariña, F. (2015). Undeutsch hypothesis and Criteria Based Content
Analysis: A meta-analytic review. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal
Context, 7(1), 3-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpal.2014.11.002
Amado, B. G., Arce, R., Fariña, F., & Vilariño, M. (2016). Criteria-Based Content Analysis
(CBCA) reality criteria in adults: A meta-analytic review. International Journal of
Clinical and Health Psychology, 16(2), 201-210. doi: 10.1016/j.ijchp.2016.01.002
Bogaard, G., Meijer, E. H., & Vrij, A. (2014). Using an example statement increases information
but does not increase accuracy of CBCA, RM, and SCAN. Journal of Investigative
Psychology and Offender Profiling, 11(2), 151-163. doi: 10.1002/jip.1409
Bond, C. F., & DePaulo, B. M. (2006). Accuracy of deception judgments. Personality and Social
Psychology Review, 10(3), 214-234. doi: 10.1207/s15327957pspr1003_2
Colwell, L. H., Colwell, K., Hiscock-Anisman, C. K., Hartwig, M., Cole, L., Werdin, K., &
Youschak, K. (2012). Teaching professionals to detect deception: The efficacy of a brief
training workshop. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 12(1), 68-80. doi:
Colwell, K., Hiscock-Anisman, C. K., Memon, A., Taylor, L., & Prewett, J. (2007). Assessment
Criteria Indicative of Deception (ACID): An integrated system of investigative
interviewing and detecting deception. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender
Profiling, 4(3), 167-180. doi: 10.1002/jip.73
Colwell, K., James-Kangal, N., Hiscock-Anisman, C., & Phelan, V. (2015). Should police use
ACID? Training and credibility assessment using transcripts versus recordings. Journal
of Forensic Psychology Practice, 15(3), 226-247. doi: 10.1080/15228932.2015.1035187
Crozier, W. E., Strange, D., & Loftus, E. F. (2017). Memory errors in alibi generation: How an
alibi can turn against us. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 35(1), 6-17. doi:
Debey, E., Verschuere, B., & Crombez, G. (2012). Lying and executive control: An experimental
investigation using ego depletion and goal neglect. Acta Psychologica, 140(2), 133-141.
doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2012.03.004
DePaulo, B. M., Lindsay, J. L., Malone, B. E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K., & Cooper, H.
(2003). Cues to deception. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 74-118. doi: 10.1037/0033-
Evans, J. R., Meissner, C. A., Ross, A. B., Houston, K. A., Russano, M. B., & Horgan, A. J.
(2013). Obtaining guilty knowledge in human intelligence interrogations: Comparing
accusatorial and information-gathering approaches with a novel experimental
paradigm. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2(2), 83-88.
Evans, J. R., & Michael, S. W. (2014). Detecting deception in non-native English
speakers. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 28(2), 226-237. doi: 10.1002/acp.2990
Evans, J. R., Michael, S. W., Meissner, C. A., & Brandon, S. E. (2013). Validating a new
assessment method for deception detection: Introducing a Psychologically Based
Credibility Assessment Tool. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and
Cognition, 2(1), 33-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac. 2013.02.002
Ewens, S., Vrij, A., Leal, S., Mann, S., Jo, E., Shaboltas, A., Ivanova, M., Granskaya, J. &
Houston, K. (2016). Using the model statement to elicit information and cues to deceit
from native speakers, non-native speakers and those talking through an
interpreter. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 30(6), 854-862. doi: 10.1002/acp.3270
Fisher, R. P. (1995). Interviewing victims and witnesses of crime. Psychology, Public Policy, &
Law, 1, 732-764. doi: 10.1037/1076-8971.1.4.732.
Fisher, R. P., & Geiselman, R. E. (1992). Memory-enhancing techniques in investigative
interviewing: The cognitive interview. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.
Fisher, R. P., Vrij, A., & Leins, D. A. (2013). Does testimonial inconsistency indicate memory
inaccuracy and deception? Beliefs, empirical research, and theory. In Applied issues in
investigative interviewing, eyewitness memory, and credibility assessment (pp. 173-189).
Springer: New York.
Garry, M., Manning, C. G., Loftus, E. F., & Sherman, S. J. (1996). Imagination inflation:
Imagining a childhood event inflates confidence that it occurred. Psychonomic Bulletin &
Review, 3(2), 208-214. doi:10.3758/BF03212420
Geiselman, R. E. (2012). The Cognitive Interview for Suspects (CIS). American Journal of
Forensic Psychology, 30, 5-20. Retrieved from
Harvey, A. C., Vrij, A., Leal, S., Hope, L., & Mann, S. (2017). Deception and decay: Verbal lie
detection as a function of delay and encoding quality. Journal of Applied Research in
Memory and Cognition. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2017.04.002
Harvey, A. C., Vrij, A., Leal, S., Lafferty, M., & Nahari, G. (2017). Insurance based lie
detection: Enhancing the verifiability approach with a model statement component. Acta
Psychologica, 174, 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2017.01.001
Harvey, A. C., Vrij, A., Nahari, G., & Ludwig, K. (2017). Applying the verifiability approach to
insurance claims settings: Exploring the effect of the information protocol. Legal and
Criminological Psychology, 22(1), 47-59. doi: 10.1111/lcrp.12092
Hauch, V., Sporer, S. L., Michael, S. W., & Meissner, C. A. (2016). Does training improve the
detection of deception? A meta-analysis. Communication Research, 43(3), 283-343. doi:
Henkel, L. A., & Coffman, K. J. (2004). Memory distortions in coerced false confessions: A
source monitoring framework analysis. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18,567–588. p.1026
Jacoby, L. L., Woloshyn, V., & Kelley, C. (1989). Becoming famous without being recognized:
Unconscious influences of memory produced by dividing attention. Journal of
Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 115–125.
Johnson, M. K., Hashtroudi, S., & Lindsay, D. S. (1993). Source monitoring. Psychological
Bulletin, 114, 3-28. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.114.1.3
Johnson, M. K., & Raye, C. L. (1981). Reality monitoring. Psychological Review, 88, 67-85. doi:
Kassin, S. M., Meissner, C. A., & Norwick, R. J. (2005). " I'd know a false confession if I saw
one": A comparative study of college students and police investigators. Law and Human
Behavior, 29(2), 211-27. doi:10.1007/s10979-005-2416-9
Kassin, S. M., & Norwick, R. J. (2004). Why people waive their Miranda rights: The power of
innocence. Law and Human Behavior, 28(2), 211-221. doi:
Köhnken, G., Schimossek, E., Aschermann, E., & Hofer, E. (1995). The Cognitive Interview and
the assessment of the credibility of adults’ statements. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80,
671–684. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.80.6.671
Lane, S. M., Dianiska, R.E., & Cash, D. K. (in preparation). Type of lie differentially influences
forgetting and false memory.
Lane, S. M. & Meissner, C. A. (2008). A 'middle road' approach to bridging the basic-applied
divide in eyewitness identification research. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22, 779-787.
doi: 10.1002/acp.1482
Leal, S., Vrij, A., Warmelink, L., Vernham, Z., & Fisher, R. P. (2015). You cannot hide your
telephone lies: Providing a model statement as an aid to detect deception in insurance
telephone calls. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 20(1), 129-146. doi:
Leins, D., Fisher, R., & Ross, S. (2013). Exploring liars’ strategies for creating deceptive
reports. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 18(1), 141-151. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-
Leins, D., Fisher, R. P., Vrij, A., Leal, S., & Mann, S. (2011). Using sketch drawing to induce
inconsistency in liars. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 16(2), 253-265. doi:
Lindsay, D. S. (2008). Source Monitoring. In H. L. Roediger, III (Ed.), Cognitive psychology of
memory. Vol. 2 of Learning and memory: A comprehensive reference, 4 vols. (J. Byrne,
Editor) (pp. 325-348). Oxford: Elsevier.
Loftus, E. F., Miller, D. G., & Burns, H. J. (1978). Semantic integration of verbal information
into a visual memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and
Memory, 4(1), 19-31. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.4.1.19
Masip, J., Sporer, S. L., Garrido, E., & Herrero, C. (2005). The detection of deception with the
reality monitoring approach: A review of the empirical evidence. Psychology, Crime &
Law, 11(1), 99-122. doi: 10.1080/10683160410001726356
Meissner, C. A., & Kassin, S. M. (2002). " He's guilty!": Investigator bias in judgments of truth
and deception. Law and Human Behavior, 26(5), 469-80. doi:10.1023/A:1020278620751
Meissner, C. A., Kelly, C. E., & Woestehoff, S. A. (2015). Improving the effectiveness of
suspect interrogations. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 11, 211-233. doi:
Memon, A., Fraser, J., Colwell, K., Odinot, G., & Mastroberardino, S. (2010). Distinguishing
truthful from invented accounts using reality monitoring criteria. Legal and
Criminological Psychology, 15(2), 177-194. doi:10.1348/135532508X401382
Memon, A., Meissner, C. A., & Fraser, J. (2010). The cognitive interview: A meta-analytic
review and study space analysis of the past 25 years. Psychology, Public Policy, and
Law, 16, 340–372. doi:10.1037/a0020518
Nahari, G., Leal, S., Vrij, A., Warmelink, L., & Vernham, Z. (2014). Did somebody see it?
Applying the verifiability approach to insurance claim interviews. Journal of
Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 11(3), 237-243. doi: 10.1002/jip.1417
Nahari, G., & Vrij, A. (2014). Can I borrow your alibi? The applicability of the verifiability
approach to the case of an alibi witness. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and
Cognition, 3(2), 89-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2014.04.005
Nahari, G., Vrij, A., & Fisher, R. P. (2014a). Exploiting liars’ verbal strategies by examining the
verifiability of details. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 19(2), 227-239.
Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., Memon, A., & Wang, J. (2014). The development of differential
mnemonic effects of false denials and forced confabulations. Behavioral Sciences & the
Law, 32(6), 718-731. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2148
Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., Smeets, T., & Wang, J. (2016). Denial-induced forgetting: False
denials undermine memory, but external denials undermine belief. Journal of Applied
Research in Memory and Cognition, 5(2), 168-175. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2016.04.002
Perfect, T. J., Wagstaff, G. F., Moore, D., Andrews, B., Cleveland, V., Newcombe, S., Brisbane,
K., & Brown, L. (2008). How can we help witnesses to remember more? It's an (eyes)
open and shut case. Law and Human Behavior, 32, 314–324. doi:10.1007/s10979-007-
Polage, D. C. (2004). Fabrication deflation? The mixed effects of lying on memory. Applied
Cognitive Psychology, 18(4), 455-465. doi:10.1002/acp.995
Polage, D. C. (2012). Fabrication inflation increases as source monitoring ability decreases. Acta
Psychologica, 139(2), 335-342. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.12.007
Smith, S. M., & Vela, E. (2001). Environmental context-dependent memory: A review and meta-
analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(2), 203-220. doi: 10.3758/BF03196157
Sooniste, T., Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., & Vrij, A. (2015). Statements about true and
false intentions: Using the Cognitive Interview to magnify the differences. Scandinavian
Journal of Psychology, 56, 371–378. doi:10.1111/sjop.12216
Sporer, S. L. (2004). Reality monitoring and the detection of deception. In P. A. Granhag & L.
A. Strömwall (Eds.), The Detection of Deception in Forensic Contexts (pp. 64–102). New
York, NY: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511490071.004
Sporer, S. L., & Schwandt, B. (2006). Paraverbal indicators of deception: A meta-analytic
synthesis. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 421-446. doi: 10.1002/acp.1190
Sporer, S.L., & Schwandt, B. (2007). Moderators of nonverbal indicators of deception: A meta-
analytic synthesis. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 13, 1–34. doi: 0.1037/1076-
Sporer, S. L., & Sharman, S. J. (2006). Should I believe this? Reality monitoring of accounts of
self-experienced and invented recent and distant autobiographical events. Applied
Cognitive Psychology, 20(6), 837-854. doi: 10.1002/acp.1234
Steel, E., & Somaiya, R. (February 10, 2015). Brian Williams suspended from NBC for 6
months without pay. New York Times.
Steller, M. (1989). Recent developments in statement analysis. In J. C. Yuille (Ed.), Credibility
assessment (pp. 135-154). Deventer, Holland: Kluwer. doi: 10.1007/978-94-015-7856-
Steller, M., & Köhnken, G. (1989). Criteria-based statement analysis. Credibility assessment of
children's testimonies in sexual abuse cases. In D. Raskin (Ed.), Psychological
Techniques in Law Enforcement, 217-245. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Suchotzki, K., Verschuere, B., Van Bockstaele, B., Ben-Shakhar, G., & Crombez, G. (2017).
Lying takes time: A meta-analysis on reaction time measures of deception. Psychological
Bulletin, 143(4), 428-453. doi: 10.1037/bul0000087
Vernham, Z., Vrij, A., Mann, S., Leal, S., & Hillman, J. (2014). Collective interviewing:
Eliciting cues to deceit using a turn-taking approach. Psychology, Public Policy and Law,
20, 309–324. doi:10.1037/law0000015
Vieira, K. M., & Lane, S. M. (2013). How you lie affects what you remember. Journal of
Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2(3), 173-178. doi:
Visu-Petra, G., Varga, M., Miclea, M., & Visu-Petra, L. (2013). When interference helps:
Increasing executive load to facilitate deception detection in the concealed information
test. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00146
Vrij, A. (2015). Verbal lie detection tools: Statement Validity Analysis, Reality Monitoring and
Scientific Content Analysis. In: P.A. Granhag, A. Vrij, and B. Verschuere (Eds.),
Detecting Deception: Current Challenges and Cognitive Approaches, John Wiley &
Vrij, A., Fisher, R. P., & Blank, H. (2017). A cognitive approach to lie detection: A meta-
analysis. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 22(1), 1-21. doi: 10.1111/lcrp.12088
Vrij, A., & Granhag, P. A. (2012). Eliciting cues to deception and truth: What matters are the
questions asked. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1(2), 110-117.
doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.02.004
Vrij, A., Leal, S., Granhag, P. A., Mann, S., Fisher, R. P., Hillman, J., & Sperry, K. (2009).
Outsmarting the liars: The benefit of asking unanticipated questions. Law and Human
Behavior, 33(2), 159-166. doi: 10.1007/s10979-008-9143-y
Vrij, A., Mann, S. A., Fisher, R. P., Leal, S., Milne, R., & Bull, R. (2008). Increasing cognitive
load to facilitate lie detection: The benefit of recalling an event in reverse order. Law and
Human Behavior, 32(3), 253-265. doi: 10.1007/s10979-007-9103-y
Vrij, A., Mann, S., Leal, S., & Fisher, R. (2010). ‘Look into my eyes’: can an instruction to
maintain eye contact facilitate lie detection?. Psychology, Crime & Law, 16(4), 327-348.
doi: 10.1080/10683160902740633
Vrij, A., Mann, S., Leal, S., Vernham, Z., & Vaughan, M. (2016). Train the trainers: A first step
towards a science-based cognitive lie detection training workshop delivered by a
practitioner. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 13(2), 110-130.
Zaragoza, M. S., & Lane, S. M. (1994). Source misattributions and the suggestibility of
eyewitness memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and
Cognition, 20, 934-945. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.20.4.934
... When an individual claims to having experienced IB, one of two possibilities exist: either the individual is providing an honest account, or the individual is falsely denying that a crime occurred (or at least, denying being a witness to that crime). False denials are a particular type of deceptive strategy in which individuals claim that an incident did not occur (Dianiska, Cash, & Meissner, 2019). There are many reasons why an individual might falsely deny that a crime occurred, such as using denial as a coping strategy for traumatic events (Otgaar, Howe, Memon, & Wang, 2014), or when the individual is in an accusatorial-style interview (Dianiska et al., 2019). ...
... False denials are a particular type of deceptive strategy in which individuals claim that an incident did not occur (Dianiska, Cash, & Meissner, 2019). There are many reasons why an individual might falsely deny that a crime occurred, such as using denial as a coping strategy for traumatic events (Otgaar, Howe, Memon, & Wang, 2014), or when the individual is in an accusatorial-style interview (Dianiska et al., 2019). However, true claims of IB may therefore be perceived as false denials. ...
Full-text available
It is possible that eyewitnesses may not notice crimes when focused on something else due to “inattentional blindness” (IB). However, it is unclear how witnesses who experience IB will be perceived by jurors, and what factors may influence these perceptions. In study 1, mock jurors read a transcript of an assault crime, in which one witness noticed the assault and another witness did not (i.e. experienced IB). It was found that the witness who experienced IB was perceived as less credible than the witness who saw the crime. In study 2, the same trial was manipulated, such that the witnesses were either civilians or police officers, the witness who experienced IB was familiar with the defendant or not, and an expert witness provided testimony on IB or not. It was again found that the witness who experienced IB was perceived as less credible compared to the witness who saw the crime. Participants’ beliefs about IB differed depending on the presence of an expert, witness role, and witness familiarity with the defendant, but these beliefs did not translate to how the IB witness was perceived. The findings highlight the negative legal implications that may arise when witnesses (particularly civilians) experience IB for a crime.
... The poor accuracy, to some degree, stems from the lack of reliable deception cues that are consistent across various situations (Levine, 2014). The studies have examined potential deceptive cues for detecting deception, including physiological cues [e.g., Polygraph (Iacono and Ben-Shakhar, 2019)], thermal imaging (Harper et al., 2019), electroencephalography (Kohan et al., 2020), functional magnetic resonance imaging (Yu et al., 2019), cognitive cues [e.g., cognitive load (Vrij et al., 2012)], memory confabulation (Dianiska et al., 2019)], and the behavioral cues (DePaulo et al., 2003;Hauch et al., 2015). However, the physiological and cognitive cues cannot be used in a contactless style, resulting in the inability to spot liars in public areas, such as airports or subway stations. ...
Full-text available
Although it is important to accurately detect deception, limited research in this area has been undertaken involving Asian people. We aim to address this gap by undertaking research regarding the identification of deception in Asians in realistic environments. In this study, we develop a Chinese Werewolf Deception Database (C2W2D), which consists of 168 video clips (84 deception videos and 84 honest videos). A total of 1,738,760 frames of facial data are recorded. Fifty-eight healthy undergraduates (24 men and 34 women) and 26 drug addicts (26 men) participated in a werewolf game. The development of C2W2D is accomplished based on a “werewolf” deception game paradigm in which the participants spontaneously tell the truth or a lie. Two synced high-speed cameras are used to capture the game process. To explore the differences between lying and truth-telling in the database, descriptive statistics (e.g., duration and quantity) and hypothesis tests are conducted using action units (AUs) of facial expressions (e.g., t -test). The C2W2D contributes to a relatively sizable number of deceptive and honest samples with high ecological validity. These samples can be used to study the individual differences and the underlying mechanisms of lies and truth-telling between drug addicts and healthy people.
... Subsequently, for the current experiment, we will specifically focus on assessing the effects of different types of false denials on memory for a crime. Otgaar and Baker (2018) proposed the Memory and Deception framework (MAD) postulating that the act of lying might be conceptualized as developing along a continuum in terms of cognitive resources (e.g., Dianiska, Cash, Lane, & Meissner, 2019;Sporer, 2016, Vrij et al., 2006, according to the type of deceptive strategies adopted by individuals. More specifically, the authors argued that false denials require few cognitive resources because a deceiver who denies his/her involvement in a crime has to inhibit the truth by just negating that such event has actually happened (e.g., "I did not abuse the girl"). ...
Full-text available
False denial is a deceptive strategy that requires fewer cognitive resources than other strategies (e.g., simulating amnesia, fabrication). In the present experiment, we examined the effects of different types of false denials varying in cognitive load on memory. Participants (N = 159) watched a video (theft) and then answered some questions about it. Some participants had to tell the truth about the theft, while others were either asked to falsely deny all the event-related details (i.e., simple false denial) or to falsely deny just some details of the same event (i.e., complex false denial). After two days, all participants completed a memory task in which they truthfully recognized whether details were (i) discussed during the interview or (ii) seen in the video. Additionally, recall scores (i.e., correct details, omissions, commissions) of the memory for the event were assessed. Participants who falsely denied all details reported a higher memory impairment for the interview than the other groups. Interestingly, liars who were engaged in complex denying had the largest memory impairment for the event and reported more commissions than those in the simple false denial group. This experiment shows that under certain conditions, memory is increasingly impaired for high cognitive load lies.
Because of the pandemic, face masks have become ubiquitous in social interactions, but it remains unclear how face masks influence the ability to discriminate between truthful and deceptive statements. The current study manipulated the presence of face masks, statement veracity, statement valence (positive or negative), and whether the statements had been practiced or not. Despite participants' expectations, face masks generally did not impair detection accuracy. However, participants were more accurate when judging negatively valenced statements when the speaker was not wearing a face mask. Participants were also more likely to believe positively rather than negatively valenced statements.
Full-text available
Alibis play a critical role in the criminal justice system. Yet research on the process of alibi generation and evaluation is still nascent. Indeed, similar to other widely investigated psychological phenomena in the legal system – such as false confessions, historical claims of abuse, and eyewitness memory – the basic assumptions underlying alibi generation and evaluation require closer empirical scrutiny. To date, the majority of alibi research investigates the social psychological aspects of the process. We argue that applying our understanding of basic human memory is critical to a complete understanding of the alibi process. Specifically, we challenge the use of alibi inconsistency as an indication of guilt by outlining the “cascading effects” that can put innocents at risk for conviction. We discuss how normal encoding and storage processes can pose problems at retrieval, particularly for innocent suspects that can result in alibi inconsistencies over time. Those inconsistencies are typically misunderstood as intentional deception, first by law enforcement, affecting the investigation, then by prosecutors affecting prosecution decisions, and finally by juries, ultimately affecting guilt judgments. Put differently, despite the universal nature of memory inconsistencies, a single error can produce a cascading effect, rendering an innocent individual's alibi, ironically, proof of guilt. Copyright
Full-text available
Lie detection techniques are frequently used, but most of them have been criticized for the lack of empirical support for their predictive validity and presumed underlying mechanisms. This situation has led to increased efforts to unravel the cognitive mechanisms underlying deception and to develop a comprehensive theory of deception. A cognitive approach to deception has reinvigorated interest in reaction time (RT) measures to differentiate lies from truths and to investigate whether lying is more cognitively demanding than truth telling. Here, we provide the results of a meta-analysis of 114 studies (n = 3307) using computerized RT paradigms to assess the cognitive cost of lying. Results revealed a large standardized RT difference, even after correction for publication bias (d = 1.049; 95% CI [0.930; 1.169]), with a large heterogeneity amongst effect sizes. Moderator analyses revealed that the RT deception effect was smaller, yet still large, in studies in which participants received instructions to avoid detection. The autobiographical Implicit Association Test produced smaller effects than the Concealed Information Test, the Sheffield Lie Test, and the Differentiation of Deception paradigm. An additional meta-analysis (17 studies, n = 348) showed that, like other deception measures, RT deception measures are susceptible to countermeasures. Whereas our meta-analysis corroborates current cognitive approaches to deception, the observed heterogeneity calls for further research on the boundary conditions of the cognitive cost of deception. RT-based measures of deception may have potential in applied settings, but countermeasures remain an important challenge.
Full-text available
Background/Objective: Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) is the tool most extensively used worldwide for evaluating the veracity of a testimony. CBCA, initially designed for evaluating the testimonies of victims of child sexual abuse, has been empirically validated. Moreover, CBCA has been generalized to adult populations and other contexts though this generalization has not been endorsed by the scientific literature. Method: Thus, a meta-analysis was performed to assess the Undeutsch Hypothesis and the CBCA checklist of criteria in discerning in adults between memories of self-experienced real-life events and fabricated or fictitious memories. Results: Though the results corroborated the Undeutsch Hypothesis, and CBCA as a valid technique, the results were not generalizable, and the self-deprecation and pardoning the perpetrator criteria failed to discriminate between both memories. The technique can be complemented with additional reality criteria. The study of moderators revealed discriminating efficacy was significantly higher in filed studies on sexual offences and intimate partner violence. Conclusions: The findings are discussed in terms of their implications as well as the limitations and conditions for applying these results to forensic settings.
Full-text available
Research on eyewitness testimony has primarily focused on memory errors. In this chapter, the focus is not on eye-witness errors but on the application of Johnson and Raye's (1981) reality monitoring (RM) model to detection of deception. The central question is whether or not it is possible to discriminate truthful from deceptive statements on the basis of content aspects outlined by the RM theory. This approach is akin to Statement Validity Analysis, in particular the Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) component, which also has focused on qualitative differences between truthful and deceptive accounts (for reviews, see Ruby and Brigham, 1997; Sporer, 1983, 1997a, 1997b; Steller and Köhnken, 1989; Vrij, 2000, in press).
We examined the effect of encoding quality and retention interval on the verbal accounts of truth tellers and liars. Truthful and deceptive participants (N = 149) reported a social interaction immediately or after a three-week delay. To manipulate encoding quality, the content of the exchange was important for, and intentionally attended to by, all liars and half of truth tellers (intentional encoding) but unimportant for half of truth tellers (incidental encoding). In the immediate condition, truth tellers in the intentional condition reported more details than liars and truth tellers in the incidental condition. All truth tellers reported fewer details after a delay (cf. immediately) whereas liars reported equivalent detail at both retrieval intervals. No differences by veracity group emerged in detail reported after delay. The oft-reported finding ‘truth tellers provide more detail than liars’ holds true when the event is intentionally encoded by truth tellers who are interviewed without delay.
Purpose: The Verifiability Approach (VA) is verbal lie detection tool that has shown promise when applied to insurance claims settings. This study examined the effectiveness of incorporating a Model Statement comprised of checkable information to the VA protocol for enhancing the verbal differences between liars and truth tellers. Method: The study experimentally manipulated supplementing (or withholding) the VA with a Model Statement. It was hypothesised that such a manipulation would (i) encourage truth tellers to provide more verifiable details than liars and (ii) encourage liars to report more unverifiable details than truth tellers (compared to the no model statement control). As a result, it was hypothesized that (iii) the model statement would improve classificatory accuracy of the VA. Participants reported 40 genuine and 40 fabricated insurance claim statements, in which half the liars and truth tellers where provided with a model statement as part of the VA procedure, and half where provide no model statement. Results: All three hypotheses were supported. In terms of accuracy, the model statement increased classificatory rates by the VA considerably from 65.0% to 90.0%. Conclusion: Providing interviewee's with a model statement prime consisting of checkable detail appears to be a useful refinement to the VA procedure.
We examined how the presence of an interpreter during an interview affects eliciting information and cues to deceit, whilst using a method that encourages interviewees to provide more detail (model statement, MS). Sixty native English speakers were interviewed in English, and 186 non-native English speakers were interviewed in English or through an interpreter. Interviewees either lied or told the truth about a mock security meeting, which they reported twice: in an initial free recall and after listening to the MS. The MS resulted in the native English speakers and those interviewed with an interpreter providing more reminiscences (additional detail) than the non-native English speakers interviewed without an interpreter. As a result, those interviewed through an interpreter provided more detail than the non-native English speakers, but only after the MS. Native English participants were most detailed in both recalls. No difference was found in the amount of reminiscences provided by liars and truth tellers.Copyright
We examined the mnemonic effects of false denials. In a previous experiment (Otgaar, Howe, Memon, & Wang, 2014), false denials resulted in participants denying that they talked about details with the experimenter when in fact they did. This denial-induced forgetting (DIF) was further examined. In Experiment 1, participants received pictures and their belief and memory for details were tested. In the false denial group, participants had to falsely deny in response to each question. In the external denial group, an experimenter falsely denied to the participants that certain details were present. The control group had to answer the questions honestly. We found evidence for DIF. In Experiment 2, we used a video and again found DIF. Moreover, when the experimenter provided external denials, nonbelieved memory rates increased. Together, our experiments suggest that false denials undermine memory while external denials appear to reduce belief.
Lie detection in insurance claim settings is difficult as liars can easily incorporate deceptive statements within descriptions of otherwise truthful events. We examined whether the Verifiability Approach (VA) could be used effectively in insurance settings. According to the VA, liars avoid disclosing details that they think can be easily checked, whereas truth tellers are forthcoming with verifiable details. The study experimentally manipulated notifying claimants about the interviewer's intention to check their statements for verifiable details (the ‘Information Protocol’). It was hypothesized that such an instruction would (1) encourage truth tellers to provide more verifiable details than liars and to report identifiable witnesses who had witnessed the event within their statements, and (2) would enhance the diagnostic accuracy of the VA. Participants reported 40 genuine and 40 fabricated insurance claim statements, in which half the liars and truth tellers were notified about the interviewer's intention to check their statements for verifiable details. Both hypotheses were supported. In terms of accuracy, notifying claimants about the interviewer's intention to check their statements for verifiable details increased accuracy rates from around chance level to around 80%. The VA, including the information protocol, can be used in insurance settings.