The Concealed Information Test (CIT) provides a valid tool for psychophysiological detection of concealed knowledge. However, its precise theoretical underpinnings remain a matter of debate. The differential physiological responses elicited by concealed, relevant items, relative to control items, were traditionally explained as reflecting an orienting response (OR). According to an alternative account, these responses reflect attempts to inhibit arousal. The present study examined whether and to what extent CIT detection efficiency is affected by instructions aimed at manipulating arousal inhibition (AI). One hundred and forty-eight undergraduate students completed a CIT, while electrodermal, cardiac, and respiratory measures were recorded. Half of the participants were requested to imagine that they are suspected of committing a crime and were motivated to avoid detection (presumably eliciting both OR and AI), while the other half were requested to imagine that they are witnesses of a crime and were motivated to be detected (presumably eliciting OR only). All participants were further requested to remain silent throughout the test. In both conditions, concealed items led to a similar increase in skin conductance as compared to the control items. However, the typically observed heart rate deceleration and respiratory suppression were found in suspects, but not in witnesses. These data imply that different mechanisms drive the responding of different psychophysiological measures used in the CIT, with skin conductance reflecting OR, and heart rate and respiration primarily reflecting AI.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society for Psychophysiological Research.
- Arousal inhibition (AI)
- Concealed Information Test (CIT)
- Heart rate (HR)
- Orienting response (OR)
- Respiration line length (RLL)
- Skin conductance response (SCR)