Truth or Lie: Applying Indirect Methods to Detect Deception


Truth or Lie: Applying Indirect Methods to Detect Deception




The ability to detect deception accurately has been found to be 54%, which is only a slightly better judgment than predicting the outcome of a coin flip (Bond & DePaulo, 2006). Fortunately, more recent research conducted by ten Brinke et al. (2016) indicates that indirect methods may better produce detection of deception than do direct methods. These research results have inspired our team to study indirect and direct questions further to better understand the underlying causes for the success of indirect questioning. Consequently, the present research utilized different types of indirect questions to better determine if someone is being deceptive. These questions were based on the role of biases, individual personality characteristics, and expected behaviors,-verbal and nonverbal-, all believed to be associated with deception. Answers from a control group of observers asked direct questions about whether an interviewee in a video was lying about previous behavior were compared with answers from an experimental group of observers asked indirect questions. Two research hypotheses about the outcome of this manipulation are: (a) indirect questioning of an interviewee’s dishonest responses would produce more accurate determinations of dishonesty than direct questioning, and (b) questions designed to detect bias about or expectations of dishonest behavior would be more accurately related to the dishonesty of the interviewee in the video than those questions related to interviewee verbal and nonverbal characteristics. Data collected thus far indicate that indirect questions, as a group, are consistently better at detecting deception. The next steps in our analyses are, first, to analyze the different types of indirect questions (biases, characteristics, and expected behavior) to better understand which indirect questions are more reliable in detecting deception, and second, to assess any interactive effect of participants’ gender with the gender of the interviewee in the videos on detection results.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Susan T Davis

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster


Presenters: Jacob Severino Avendano, Kelly Catherine Boris, Colin L Lamb, Cara Jane Miller, Shelbie Nicole Weightman

Truth or Lie: Applying Indirect Methods to Detect Deception