Deception Experiment


Deception Experiment Essay, Research Paper


We often give nonverbal cues as to whether or not we are trying to deceive someone. These nonverbal actions are involuntary. Subjects were asked three questions provided with no reason to lie. They were then asked three questions they were asked to lie about. Nonverbal cues were measured both, during the truthful answers, and again during the deceptive answers. The intention of this experiment was to prove that the dependent variables in this experiment would occur more frequently during deception than in truthfulness. This was not proven.

Nonverbal cues in deception as opposed to nonverbal cues in truthful responses.

Everyday life presents us with many temptations to lie to others. And in fact, research findings indicate that all to often we yield to these temptations. (DePaulo et al., 1996) found that college students tell about two lies per day, most of which are designed to enhance their social image or advance their social interests. Given these facts it seems important to tell whether another person is lying. Fortunately the findings of a large body of research on nonverbal communication can prove very useful in this respect.

(DePaulo, Epstein, & Wyer, 1993) showed that is virtually impossible to find anyone who can control or manage the many different channels of nonverbal communication. For this reason even persons who lie frequently and are highly practiced at this task, often reveal the fact that they are lying through some channel of nonverbal cues.

Some of the deception detectors are microexpressions, or fleeting facial expressions that last only a few tenths of a second. These expressions are very quick and according to (Ekman, 1985) are very are very difficult to oppress.

Another cue is inter-channel discrepancies. This is when there inconsistencies between nonverbal cues from different basic channels. For example, When a defendant is lying on the witness stand, while he/she might concentrate on maintaining eye contact; they may demonstrate postural shifts or body movements that show high levels of anxiety.

A third nonverbal cue involves nonverbal aspects of a person s speech called paralanguage. (Zuckerman, DePaulo & Rosenthal, 1981) shows that when people lie, the pitch of their voice often changes and they tend to speak more slowly and with less fluency. In addition, they may engage in more sentence repairs-in which they start a sentence, interrupt it, and start again (Stiff et al., 1989).

In this experiment the occurrence of the Independent Variables (nonverbal cues) were tested to see if they occurred more often in lying. Viewing past research, it would be reasonable to assume certain nonverbal cues would occur more frequently in deceptive responses.



Three subjects were selected randomly from the experimenter’s personal acquaintances. All of which were under-graduate students, one male, and two female.


Subjects responses to all questions were recorded on video by the experimenter. The experimenter possessed two sets of questions she would ask the three subjects.


Each subject was asked three questions designed to provide no reason for the subject to lie. The subjects were asked to try to speak for at least thirty seconds if possible. This was so that the experimenter could test the frequency of the nonverbal cues. The first three questions were:

(a). Could you please tell me where you are from originally, where you have lived, where you live now, and the amount of time you spent in each.

(b). Could you please tell me each of the schools you have attended, how long you attended, and any significant ideas, or memories of each.

(c). Could you please tell me if your parents are married, for how long, your marital status, and personal views on marriage.

The second set of questions was asked along with the request of the experimenter that the subject be deceptive in his/her answer. These questions were:

(a). Could you please tell you r age during your first sexual experience, and what it entailed.

(b). Could you please speak briefly on personal strengths and weakness. That you admire in yourself and what others admire about you.

(c). Could you please sate your present occupation, job responsibilities, and yearly income.

After the subjects were videotaped the experimenter viewed the tape and recorded the data provided. For each subject in question 1, the number of times the subject lost eye contact with the experimenter in fifteen seconds was counted in both the truth-inducing question and in the deception question. In question 2 for all subjects, the number of times the subject said um , or similar in fifteen seconds was counted in both the truth inducing question and in the deception question. In question 3 for all subjects, the number of times the subject blinked in fifteen seconds was counted in both the truth-inducing question and in the deception question.


After the experimenter came up with the numbers, the numbers were analyzed by a ONE-WAY repeated-measures MANOVA. Types of question (truth inducing, request for deception) were the Independent Variables. The Dependent Variables were the number of times the subject lost eye contact in fifteen seconds, number of timed subject said, um or similar, in fifteen seconds and number of times the subject blinked in fifteen seconds. The results showed no significant difference. So we fail to reject the null hypothesis.


This experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that certain nonverbal cued occur more frequently in deceptive responses. The test showed no significant difference in nonverbal cue for truth vs. frequency of the same nonverbal cues in deceptive responses. One of the flaws in this experiment could be the lack of a sufficient number of subjects. More subjects could provide more variance in the frequency of certain nonverbal cues in deceptive responses. The experiment may also ask subjects open-ended questions requiring more lengthy answers. Perhaps fifteen seconds wasn t sufficient to test the frequency of non-verbal cues.


DePaulo, B.M., Epstein J.E., & Wyer M.M. (1993). Sex differences in lying: How women and men deal with the dilemma of deceit. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.). Lying and deception in everyday life. (pp. 126-147). New York: Guildford Press.

DePaulo, B.M., Kashy, D.A., Kirkendol, S.E., Wyer, M.M., & Epstein, J.A. (1996). Lying in everyday life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 979-995.

Ekman, P. (1985). Telling lies. New York: Norton.

Stiff, J.B., Miller, G.R., Sleight, C., Montegeau, P.I., et al. (1989). Explanations for visual cue primacy in judgements of honesty and deceit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56 555-564.

Zuckerman, M., DePaulo, B.M., Rosenthal, R., (1981). Verbal and nonverbal communication of deception. In Berkowitz (Eds.) Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 14, pp. 1-59). New York: Academic Press.

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