High stakes lies: identifying and using cues to deception and honesty in appeals for missing and murdered relatives

Whelan, Clea
High stakes lies: identifying and using cues to deception and honesty in appeals for missing and murdered relatives. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Deception is a near-universal human behaviour, and decades of psychological research have generated hundreds of studies investigating behaviours related to deception (often referred to as ‘cues to deception’), and accuracy in detecting deception. However, the low ecological validity of most of this research on deception is a limitation that has been recognised by many authorities in the field, who have argued that, to produce findings that are relevant to real world, high stakes deceptive behaviour, there is a need for more research using real life, high stakes lies. Consequently, the research presented investigated cues to deception using video footage of people making real life, public appeals for help with missing or murdered relatives. There were four major aims of the research; to develop and apply a methodology to identify cues to deception in a specific high stakes context, and to investigate whether these cues were useful in discriminating between honest and deceptive appeals in this context; to develop a multiple-cue approach to behaviours which discriminate between honesty and deception in the context of appeals, and which may be of applied use; to develop a theoretical rationale for cues that may be context-specific and may emerge only in high stakes contexts, and cannot readily be accommodated by existing theoretical approaches; and to investigate the effect of using ecologically valid stimulus materials on the accuracy of observers (both police and non-police) in detecting deception. To these ends, seven studies were conducted. Study 1 was a qualitative investigation of cues to deception in appeals used by people unusually accurate at detecting deception in the context of appeals. The aim of the study was to generate cues, including possibly new and context-specific cues, to be tested in future, quantitative research. Studies 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 were then quantitative investigations of nonverbal cues, verbal cues, and subjective observer ratings identified in Study 1 and in previous research on high stakes deceptive behaviour, in the context of appeals. Finally Study 7 was an investigation of observer accuracy in detecting deception, truth bias, accuracy-confidence relationships, and the value of consensus judgements in the high stakes context of appeals, including samples of police and non-police participants. Several important findings emerged. In the final analyses, 23 cues discriminated between honest and deceptive appeals, the majority of which had not previously been identified, and may, at least to some degree, be context specific. These included two nonverbal cues, four verbal cues, and 17 subjective measures. Utilising a multiple-cue approach, case by case analyses combining information from the verbal and nonverbal cues correctly classified 78% of individual cases. Observer accuracy in discriminating between honest and deceptive appeals was above chance (M = 71%), and police observers (M = 72%) were more accurate than non-police observers (M = 68%). Though non-police observers demonstrated a truth bias, police observers showed some evidence of a deception bias. There was also a positive relationship between confidence and accuracy for all groups of observers. Importantly, observer consensus using simple global subjective judgments of veracity correctly predicted 92% of cases. To account for the findings regarding the previously unidentified cues, various theoretical approaches are considered, including two new developments, the social interactionist approach, and the individual behavioural profile approach. Various implications for research and practice are discussed, including the possible development of consensus judgments, and a checklist of cues, for use in police investigations in this type of context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2013-05 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Deception detection, high stakes lies
Subjects: ?? BF ??
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2014 11:18
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:39
DOI: 10.17638/00012713
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/12713