Deceptive intent: physiological reactions in different interpersonal contexts

Sabine Ströfer

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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This dissertation advanced the deception field by examining the psychological processes associated with deceptive intent. The main focus forms the intention to deceive and more specifically, whether cues to deception already can be measured during truth telling with the mere intention to lie. In order to test this prediction, we examined truth telling with the intention to lie on a crucial aspect later on and compared this with ‘sincere’ truth telling and lying across four empirical studies. In order to deliver a theoretical as well as practical contribution to the deception field, these studies ranged from controlled to more realistic experiments and varied in interpersonal context as well as stakes for the deceiver. Cues to deception were measured in form of electrodermal activity (EDA), a direct indicator for sympathetic nervous system activity and most frequently used physiological measure in the lie detection context. Across all studies, constant lying evoked higher EDA than constant truth telling. But deceptive accounts, which consists of truth telling with the intention to lie, did not necessarily induce an increase in EDA. Rather, elevated EDA levels during the mere intention to deceive seem to depend highly on the degree of interpersonal contact. Particularly, we could not measure the intention to deceive in situations involving direct face-to-face interaction. However, in situations where the deceiver did not have access to the interviewer’s reactions we did found elevated EDA levels during deceptive intentions. These results may be explained from an impression-management perspective. We propose that deceptive intentions may especially increase cognitive and emotional load when deceivers are deprived from social feedback of the interviewer. In order to measure the intention to deceive, it thus may be beneficial to withhold deceivers from target’s (non)verbal reactions.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Giebels, Ellen, Supervisor
  • Ufkes, E.G., Co-Supervisor
  • Noordzij, Matthijs L., Co-Supervisor
Award date18 Feb 2016
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-4030-8
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2016


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