An investigation on the detectability of deceptive intent about flying through verbal deception detection

Bennett Kleinberg, Galit Nahari, Arnoud Arntz, Bruno Verschuere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Academic research on deception detection has largely focused on the detection of past events. For many applied purposes, however, the detection of false reports about someone’s intention merits attention. Based on the verbal deception detection paradigm, we explored whether true statements on intentions were more detailed and more specific than false statements on intentions, particularly when instructed to be as specific as possible. Method: Participants (n = 222) lied or told the truth about their upcoming travel plans either providing ‘as much information as possible’ (standard instructions) or being ‘as specific as possible’ (i.e., mentioning times, locations, places; specific instructions), resulting in four conditions (truthful vs. deceptive intention by standard vs. specific instructions). We collected data via a custom-made web app and performed automated verbal content analysis of participants’ written answers. Findings: We did not find a significant difference in the specificity of participants’ statements. The instruction to be as specific as possible promoted more specific information but did not help to discern honest from deceptive flying intentions. Conclusion: The experiment reported here attempted to demonstrate automated verbal deception detection of intentions. The difficulty in capturing genuine intentions, and the non-intrusive, non-interactive questioning approach might explain the null findings and raise questions for further research. We conclude with suggestions for a novel framework on semi-interactive information elicitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Airport screening
  • Deception detection
  • Deceptive intentions
  • Information protocol
  • Reality Monitoring


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