Outsmarting the liars: toward a cognitive lie detection approach

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Five decades of lie detection research have shown that people’s ability to detect deception by observing behavior and listening to speech is limited. The problem is that cues to deception are typically faint and unreliable. The aim for interviewers, therefore, is to ask questions that actively elicit and amplify verbal and nonverbal cues to deceit. We present an innovative lie detection perspective based on cognitive load, demonstrating that it is possible to ask questions that raise cognitive load more in liars than in truth tellers. This cognitive lie detection perspective consists of two approaches. The imposing-cognitive-load approach aims to make the interview setting more difficult for interviewees. We argue that this affects liars more than truth tellers, resulting in more, and more blatant, cues to deceit. The strategic-questioning approach examines different ways of questioning that elicit the most differential responses between truth tellers and liars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-32
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions In Psychological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


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