From tactical to strategic deception detection: application of psychological synthesis

Iain Reid, Lynsey Gozna, Julian Boon

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Deception detection has ubiquitously focussed upon detecting deceit in the individual, whether in national security, forensic or business-related environments. In contrast an understanding of how to identify deception committed by multiple individuals or groups challenging strategic interests has been neglected. In this article - to enhance understanding of practitioners working across security, intelligence and forensic areas - a process of psychological synthesis is advocated. Psychological synthesis incorporates a multitude of approaches reflecting contextual requirements towards deception detection across verbal/linguistic behavior, non-verbal behavior, online interactions and intelligence analysis approaches. These combined with in-depth understanding of individuals’ cultures, personality and manner of presentation can be understood in challenging environments. Juxtaposed to these factors psychological synthesis considers how intelligence, surveillance and evidence may be used in detecting deception and identifying links between individuals engaging in deception and related activities. An illustration of how such an approach may work is provided through a scenario of a terrorist incident and how a tailored deception detection approach may seek to counter such a threat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-101
JournalJournal of Strategic Security
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2017


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