Drawing-based deception detection techniques: a state-of-the-art review

Erik Mac Giolla, Pär Anders Granhag, Zarah Vernham

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The current article presents a concise overview of the emerging literature on drawing-based deception detection techniques. We cover the theoretical rationale of such techniques as well as the main results from the extant empirical studies. These studies have primarily looked at differences in the drawings between truth tellers and liars in terms of quality (e.g. detail, plausibility) and consistency (both within-group, and between-statement). The findings highlight drawings as a promising tool to elicit differences between truth tellers and liars on such cues. The paper also examines more practical aspects, such as practitioners’ experience of the approach and preference for the approach in training studies. Finally, the susceptibility of the approach to counter-measures and directions for future research are discussed. Although research on drawing-based deception detection techniques is still very much in its infancy, results of this first round of studies are promising. They indicate the potential of incorporating drawings into real-life investigative interviews as a cheap, effective, and easy to use approach to deception detection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalCrime Psychology Review
Issue number1
Early online date1 Nov 2017
Publication statusEarly online - 1 Nov 2017


  • drawing
  • deception
  • cognitive load
  • consistency


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