Dynamic Nature Of Deception

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Title, Journal

The Dynamic Nature of Deceptive Verbal Communication, Journal of Language and Social Psychology


Past research on verbal deception has found inconsistent patterns, possibly due to failure to consider the dynamic nature of interpersonal deception. The current investigation examined temporal changes and sequencing effects in truthful and deceptive responding on 23 linguistic measures. Interviewees responded to 12 questions during which they alternated between giving blocks of truthful and blocks of deceptive answers. Results showed significant variability in verbal behavior across the course of the interview on virtually all measures. Deceptive responding differed from truthful responding depending on the truth-deception sequence and the phase of the interview. The truth-first order made it much easier for deceivers to approximate truthful discourse sooner. The existence of significant variability due to time and sequence has important implications for identifying reliable indicators of deception and for research paradigms used to investigate deceptive and truthful discourse.


deception • language • interpersonal communication

Authors' Bio (name, school)

Judee K. Burgoon
Tiantain Qin - I don't know where she is right now

Problem Statements/Phenomena

Very little research has examined temporal adjustment in deceptive communications. If deception fluctuates instead of remaining stable, then much that has been written about deception may be inaccurate. It may be that the results only pertain to the first moments, or first minutes of conversation.

Another factor related to time is that many deceivers have the opportunity to engage in truthtelling before they deceive. It is possible that the sequencing of truthful and deceptive behavior has an effect on the deception.

Research Questions

Does deceptive behavior differ depending on time?
Does deceptive behavior differ depending on sequence? (TDTD vs. DTDT)

Theory Used or Developed

IDT - IDT is a theory that explicitly considers temporal and process factors in deception. IDT assumes that deception is interdependent, dynamic, and adaptive. Deceivers attune to and respond to the behaviors of cointeractants. Deceivers deceptive and truthful behaviors will converge over time as the deceivers adapt to the cognitive burden created by deception. Deceptive behavior is unexpected, anamolous, "fishy looking", and evokes suspicion.

Independent Variables

Sequence (TDTD vs. DTDT)
Truth vs. Deception

Dependent Variables

Linguistic Cues


H1 - Verbal indicators of truth and deception (a) show different temporal patterns such that (b) they are more divergent at the outset of an interaction than at its conclusion.

H2 - Verbal behavior differs according to the sequence of truth telling and deception.




Method Type:



Subjects arrived to an apartment-like building and were randomly assigned as interviewer or interviewee. The interviewee was privately told to lie during 2 blocks of questions. Each block contained 3 consecutive questions.

Subject and Selection Criteria:

Community members found in a courthouse and communications students (over 25)

Sample Size:


Measuring Instrument:

GATE, all cues were analyzed with GLM repeated measures analysis of variance.

Major Findings

Deception and truth showed different patterns across time for most of the linguistic measures. H1(a) was supported but not H1(b). H2 is supported.

Discussion Summary & Author Recommendations

The current findings affirm the supposition that verbal behavior—lexical choices, syntax, and metacontent— shows substantial variability across the course of an interaction. Apart from any effects of deception, 21 of the 23 verbal indicators that were measured showed changes from the first half to the second half of the interaction.

Virtually all dependent measures showed sequence effects. Differences between truth and deception were more prominent in the deception-first order.

These findings point to one reason why the investigations that have considered verbal deception have produced such a mix of results. If utterances at the beginning of a conversation have a different complexion than those appearing at later junctures, then we would expect a high degree of heterogeneity in results across experiments depending on whether a single utterance, a full turn, a series of turns, a written statement, or an entire conversation was measured.

Why paper is important? Why paper is cited?

This paper is important because it introduces the temporal element into deception. It proves that senders and receivers change their communication styles during a conversation, so deception cannot be checked at just one point, it is better to evaluate behavior over time.

APA Reference

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