Deception and decay: verbal lie detection as a function of delay and encoding quality

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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 that truth tellers provide more detail than liars holds true when the event is intentionally encoded by truth tellers who are interviewed without delay.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-318
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


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