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‘Mapping’ deception in adolescents: Eliciting cues to deceit through an unanticipated spatial drawing task

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In this experiment we examined whether an unanticipated spatial task could increase the differences between lying and truth telling groups of adolescents. In addition, we explored whether there are some elements of such a spatial task that elicit more diagnostic cues to deception than others.

In groups of three, adolescents (N = 150, aged 13–14) either experienced (‘truth tellers’) or imagined (‘liars’) an event. In subsequent individual interviews, the adolescents were asked to provide both a general verbal description of the event (the anticipated task), and a spatial description by making marks on a sketch (the unanticipated task). Next, adults (N = 200) rated the degree of consistency between either the general descriptions or the spatial descriptions from the adolescents in each triad.

The differences between liars and truth tellers were larger for the spatial markings (the unanticipated task) than for the general verbal descriptions (the anticipated task). Importantly, as predicted, the difference between lying and truth-telling triads was most manifest for markings of salient (vs. non-salient) aspects of the event.

The results suggests that (a) using spatial tasks may be a useful tool for detecting deception in adolescents, but that (b) the assessment of credibility should only draw on the salient aspects of the unanticipated spatial task.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
JournalLegal and Criminological Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • Mapping_deception_in_adolescents

    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Roos af Hjelmsäter, E., Öhman, L., Granhag, P. A. and Vrij, A. (2014), ‘Mapping’ deception in adolescents: Eliciting cues to deceit through an unanticipated spatial drawing task. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 19: 179–188, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/j.2044-8333.2012.02068.x. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 551 KB, PDF document

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