10 - Practitioners' beliefs about deception  pp. 229-250

Practitioners' beliefs about deception

By Leif A. Strömwall, Pär Anders Granhag and Maria Hartwig

Image View Previous Chapter Next Chapter



The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of research on beliefs about deception – especially practitioners' beliefs. Specifically, we will outline which beliefs on deception professionals hold and compare these with what is known about actual (objective) differences between liars and truth-tellers. Then we will discuss how these beliefs have arisen, why they survive, how they spread, and to what they might lead. Finally, we will suggest how one might come to terms with misconceptions and false beliefs.

In the present chapter we define belief as a (strong or weak) feeling or conviction that something is true or real. The beliefs that a person holds, irrespective of whether these are correct or not, are often reflected in his or her behavioural disposition (Eichenbaum and Bodkin, 2000). Since beliefs often guide action, it is important to study people's beliefs about deception in order to learn more about why people fail and succeed in their endeavour to catch lies.

In the deception literature, there are an abundance of studies on deception detection accuracy. Many studies report low accuracy in human lie detection (Kraut, 1980; Vrij, 2000). The most commonly given reason for the low accuracy is that there is a mismatch between what actually is indicative of deception and what people believe is indicative of deception (Vrij, 2000).

Beliefs about deception

How does one find out people's beliefs about deception?

Ainsworth, P. B. (1995). Psychology and policing in a changing world. Chichester: Wiley
Akehurst, L., Köhnken, G., Vrij, A., and Bull, R. (1996). Laypersons' and police officers' beliefs regarding deceptive behaviour. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 461–71
Allwood, C. M., and Granhag, P. A. (1999). Feelings of confidence and the realism of confidence judgements in everyday life. In P. Juslin and H. Montgomery (eds.), Judgement and decision making: Neo-Brunswikian and process-tracing approaches (123–46). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Anderson, D. E., DePaulo, B. M., Ansfield, M. E., Tickle, J. J., and Green, E. (1999). Beliefs about cues to deception: Mindless stereotypes or untapped wisdom? Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 23, 67–89
Cooper, J., Kelly, K. A., and Weaver, K. (2004). Attitudes, norms, and social groups. In M. B. Brewer and M. Hewstone (eds.), Social Cognition (pp. 244–67). Oxford: Blackwell
DePaulo, B. M., and Pfeifer, R. L. (1986). On-the-job experience and skill at detecting deception. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, 249–67
DePaulo, B. M., Lindsay, J. J., Malone, B. E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K., and Cooper, H. (2003). Cues to deception. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 74–118
DeTurck, M., Harszlak, J., Bodhorn, D., and Texter, L. (1990). The effects of training social perceivers to detect deception from behavioural cues. Communication Quarterly, 38, 189–99
Eichenbaum, H., and Bodkin, J. A. (2000). Belief and knowledge as distinct forms of memory. In D. L. Schacter and E. Scaryy (eds). Memory, brain, and belief (pp. 176–207). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
Einhorn, H. J. (1982). Learning from experience and suboptimal rules in decision making. In D. Kahneman, P. Slovic, and A. Tversky (eds.), Judgement under uncertainty: heuristics and biases (pp. 268–83). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Ekman, P. (2001). Telling lies: Clues to deceit in the marketplace, politics and marriage. New York: Norton
Ekman, P., and O'Sullivan, M., and Frank, M. G. (1999). A few can catch a liar. Psychological Science, 10, 263–6
Ekman, P., O'Sullivan, M. (1991). Who can catch a liar? American Psychologist, 46, 913–20
Frank, M. G., and Feeley, T. H. (2003). To catch a liar: Challenges for research in lie detection training. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 31, 58–75
Fraser, C., and Gaskell, G. (1990). The social psychological study of widespread beliefs. Oxford. Clarendon Press
Gilovich, T. (1991). How we know what isn't so: The fallibility of human reason in everyday life. New York: Free Press
Gilovich, T., Vallone, R., and Tversky, A. (1985). The hot hand in basketball: On the misperception of random sequences. Cognitive Psychology, 17, 295–314
Gordon, N. J., and Fleisher, W. L. (2002). Effective interviewing and interrogation techniques. London: Academic Press
Granhag, P. A., Andersson, L. O., Strömwall, L. A., and Hartwig, M. (2004). Imprisoned knowledge: Criminals' beliefs about deception. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 9, 103–19
Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., and Hartwig, M. (in press). Granting asylum or not? Migration Board personnel's beliefs on deception. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Greuel, L. (1992). Police officers' beliefs about cues associated with deception in rape cases. In F. Lösel, D. Bender, and T. Bliesener (eds.), Psychology and Law – International Perspectives (pp. 234–9). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter
Gudjonsson, G. H. (2003). The psychology of interrogations and confessions: A handbook. Chichester: Wiley
Hartwig, M., Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., and Andersson. L. O. (2004). Suspicious minds: Criminals' ability to detect deception. Psychology, Crime, and Law, 10, 83–95
Hartwig, M., Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., and Vrij, A. (2004). Deception detection via strategic disclosure of evidence. Manuscript submitted for publication
Hess, J. E. (1997). Interviewing and interrogation for law enforcement. Cincinnati: Anderson Publishing
Hogarth, R. M. (2001). Educating intuition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Inbau, F. E., Reid, J. E., and Buckley, J. P. (1986). Criminal interrogation and confessions. Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins
Inbau, F. E., Reid, J. E., Buckley, J. P., and Jayne, B. C. (2001). Criminal interrogation and confessions. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers
Köhnken, G. (1987). Training police officers to detect deceptive eyewitness statements. Does it work? Social Behaviour, 2, 1–17
Kassin, S. M., and Fong, C. T. (1999). ‘I'm innocent!’: Effects of training on judgments of truth and deception in the interrogation room. Law and Human Behaviour, 23, 499–516
Kraut, R. E. (1980). Humans as lie detectors. Some second thoughts. Journal of Communication, 30, 209–16
Kraut, R. E., and Poe, D. (1980). Behavioral roots of person perception: The deception judgements of customs inspectors and laymen. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 784–98
Lord, C. G., Ross, L., and Lepper, M. R. (1979). Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 2098–109
Macdonald, J. M., and Michaud, D. L. (1992). Criminal interrogation. Denver: Apache Press
Mann, S., Vrij, A., and Bull, R. (2004). Detecting true lies: Police officers' ability to detect suspects' lies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 137–49
Masip, J., and Garrido, E. (2001, June). Experienced and novice officers' beliefs about indicators of deception. Paper presented at the 11th European Conference of Psychology and Law, Lisbon, Portugal
Miller, G. R., and Stiff, J. B. (1993). Deceptive communication. Newbury Park, CA: Sage
Nevid, J. S. (2003). Psychology: Concepts and applications. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Nisbett, R. E., and Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84, 231–59
Norwick, R. J., Kassin, S. M., Meissner, C. A., and Malpass, R. A. (2002, March). ‘I'd know a false confession if I saw one’: A comparative study of college students and police investigators. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the American Psychology–Law Society in Austin, Texas
Porter, S., Woodworth, M., and Birt, A. R. (2000). Truth, lies and videotapes: An investigation of the ability of federal parole officers to detect deception. Law and Human Behavior, 24, 643–58
Rabon, D. (1992). Interviewing and interrogation. Durham: Carolina Academic Press
Snyder, M., and Cantor, N. (1979). Testing hypotheses about other people: The use of historical knowledge. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 15, 330–42
Strömwall, L. A., and Granhag, P. A. (2003). How to detect deception? Arresting the beliefs of police officers, prosecutors and judges. Psychology, Crime, and Law, 9, 19–36
Strömwall, L. A., Hartwig, M., and Granhag, P. A. (2004). To act truthfully: Nonverbal behavior during a police interview. Manuscript submitted for publication
Taylor, R., and Vrij, A. (2001). The effects of varying stake and cognitive complexity on the beliefs about the cues to deception. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 3, 111–23
Tversky, A., and Kahneman, D. (2002). Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgements. In T. Gilovich, D. Griffin, and D. Kahneman (eds.), Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgement (pp. 19–48). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Victory, P. (2002). Justice and truth: The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven. London: Sinclair-Stevenson
Vrij, A. (1993). Credibility judgements of detectives: The impact of non-verbal behavior, social skills and physical characteristics on impression formation. Journal of Social Psychology, 133, 601–11
Vrij, A. (2000). Detecting lies and deceit. The psychology of lying and the implications for professional practice. Chichester: John Wiley
Vrij, A. (2003). We will protect your wife and child, but only if you confess. In P. J. van Koppen and S. D. Penrod (eds.), Adversarial versus inquisitorial justice: Psychological perspectives on criminal justice systems (pp. 55–79). New York, NJ: Kluwer Academic
Vrij, A., and Graham, S. (1997). Individual differences between liars and the ability to detect lies. Expert Evidence: The International Digest of Human Behaviour, Science and Law, 5, 144–8
Vrij, A., and Mann, S. (2001a). Telling and detecting lies in a high-stake situation: The case of a convicted murderer. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 15, 187–203
Vrij, A., and Mann, S. (2001b). Who killed my relative? Police officers' ability to detect real-life high-stake lies. Psychology, Crime, and Law, 7, 119–32
Vrij, A., and Semin, G. R. (1996). Lie experts' beliefs about nonverbal indicators of deception. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 20, 65–80
Vrij, A., and Taylor, R. (2003). Police officers' and students' beliefs about telling and detecting trivial and serious lies. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 5, 1–9
Wagenaar, W. A., van Koppen, P. J., and Crombag, H. F. M. (1993). Anchored narratives. The psychology of criminal evidence. New York: St Martin's Press
Walker, C., and Starmer, K. (eds.). (1999). Miscarriages of justice: A review of justice in error. London: Blackstone Press
Zuckerman, M., DePaulo, B. M., and Rosenthal, R. (1981). Verbal and nonverbal communication of deception. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 14, 1–59
Zuckerman, M., Koestner, R., and Driver, R. (1981). Beliefs about cues associated with deception. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 6, 105–14
Zulawski, D. E., and Wicklander, D. E. (1993). Practical aspects of interview and interrogation. Boca Raton: CRC Press