• High-stakes lies: Verbal and nonverbal cues to deception in public appeals for help with missing or murdered relatives

      Wright Whelan, Clea; Wagstaff, Graham; Wheatcroft, Jacqueline M.; University of Liverpool (Taylor & Francis, 2013-09-23)
      Low ecological validity is a common limitation in deception studies. The present study investigated the real life, high stake context of public appeals for help with missing or murdered relatives. Behaviours which discriminated between honest and deceptive appeals included some previously identified in research on high stakes lies (deceptive appeals contained more equivocal language, gaze aversion, head shaking, and speech errors), and a number of previously unidentified behaviours (honest appeals contained more references to norms of emotion/behaviour, more expressions of hope of finding the missing relative alive, more expressions of positive emotion towards the relative, more expressions of concern/pain, and an avoidance of brutal language). Case by case analyses yielded 78% correct classifications. Implications are discussed with reference to the importance of using ecologically valid data in deception studies, the context specific nature of some deceptive behaviours, and social interactionist, and individual behavioural profile, accounts of cues to deception.
    • How downplaying or exaggerating crime severity in a confession affects perceived guilt

      Holt, G. A.; Palmer, M. A.; University of Chester; University of Tasmania
      This study investigated how judgments of guilt are influenced by factual errors in confessions that either amplified or downplayed the severity of the crime. Participants read a confession statement and a police report. Information in the confession statement either was consistent with the facts of the crime in the police report, the suspect admitted to a worse crime than described in the police report, or the suspect admitted to a lesser crime than described in the police report. Mediation analyses showed that, compared to consistent confessions, both types of directional errors reduced judgments of guilt. Inconsistencies that made the suspect look better—but not those that made the suspect look worse—also increased judgments of guilt via a direct effect. Confessions that contain errors that appear to exaggerate the severity of the crime prompt no higher judgments of suspect guilt than confessions that are consistent with the facts of the crime. However, errors in confessions that are perceived to downplay the severity of the crime can prompt an increased perception of suspect guilt, when compared to a consistent confession.