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A stability bias effect amongst deceivers

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Research examining how truth tellers’ and liars’ verbal behaviour is attenuated as a function of delay is largely absent from the literature, despite its important applied value. We examined this factor across two studies in which we examined the effects of a hypothetical delay (Experiment 1) or actual delay (Experiment 2) on liars’ accounts. In Experiment 1 – an insurance claim interview setting – claimants either genuinely experienced a (staged) loss of a tablet device (n=40), or pretended to have experienced the same loss (n=40). Truth tellers were interviewed either immediately after the loss (n=20) or three weeks after the loss (n=20), whereas liars had to either pretend the loss occurred either immediately prior (n=20) or 3-weeks prior (n=20) to the interview (i.e., hypothetical delay for liars). In Experiment 2 – a Human Intelligence gathering setting – sources had to either lie (n=50) or tell the truth (n=50) about a secret video they had seen concerning the placing of a spy device. Half of the truth tellers and liars where interviewed immediately after watching the video (n=50), and half where interviewed three-weeks later (n=50) (i.e., real delay for liars). Across both experiments, truth tellers interviewed after a delay reported fewer details than truth tellers interviewed immediately after the to-be-remembered event. In both studies, liars failed to simulate this pattern of forgetting and reported similar amounts of detail when interviewed without or after a delay, demonstrating a stability bias in reporting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-529
Number of pages11
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • A stability bias effect amongst deceivers

    Rights statement: © American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at DOI: 10.1037/lhb0000258.

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 424 KB, PDF document

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