Linguistic concreteness of statements of true and false intentions

Sofia Calderon, Erik Mac Giolla, Timothy J. Luke, Lara Natasja Warmelink, Karl Ask, Pär Anders Granhag, Aldert Vrij

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Our aim was to examine how people communicate their true and false intentions. Based on construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2010), we predicted that statements of true intentions would be more concretely phrased than statements of false intentions. True intentions refer to more likely future events than false intentions, and they should therefore be mentally represented at a lower level of mental construal. This should be mirrored in more concrete language use. Transcripts of truthful and deceptive statements about intentions from six previous experimental studies (total N = 528) were analyzed using two automated verbal content analysis approaches: a folk-conceptual measure of concreteness (Brysbaert et al., 2014) and linguistic category model scoring (Seih et al., 2017). Contrary to our hypotheses, veracity did not predict statements’ concreteness scores, suggesting that automated verbal analysis of linguistic concreteness is not a viable deception-detection technique for intentions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-541
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
Early online date14 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • construal level theory
  • true and false intentions
  • mental abstraction
  • automated text analysis
  • deception


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