Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 239–263 | Cite as

Detecting Deceit via Analysis of Verbal and Nonverbal Behavior

  • Aldert Vrij
  • Katherine Edward
  • Kim P. Roberts
  • Ray Bull


We examined the hypotheses that (1) a systematic analysis of nonverbal behavior could be useful in the detection of deceit and (2) that lie detection would be most accurate if both verbal and nonverbal indicators of deception are taken into account. Seventy-three nursing students participated in a study about “telling lies” and either told the truth or lied about a film they had just seen. The interviews were videotaped and audiotaped, and the nonverbal behavior (NVB) and speech content of the liars and truth tellers were analyzed, the latter with the Criteria-Based Content Analysis technique (CBCA) and the Reality Monitoring technique (RM). Results revealed several nonverbal and verbal indicators of deception. On the basis of nonverbal behavior alone, 78% of the lies and truths could be correctly classified. An even higher percentage could be correctly classified when all three detection techniques (i.e., NVB, CBCA, RM) were taken into account.

detecting deceit nonverbal behavior Criteria-Based Content Analysis Reality Monitoring 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akehurst, L., Köhnken, G., Vrij, A., & Bull, R. (1996). Lay persons' and police officers' beliefs regarding deceptive behavior. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 461–473.Google Scholar
  2. Akehurst, L., Köhnken, G., & Höfer, E. (1995). The analysis and application of Statement Validity Assessment. Paper presented at the Fifth European Conference on Psychology and Law, Budapest, Hungary.Google Scholar
  3. Akehurst, L., & Vrij, A. (1999). Creating suspects in police interviews. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 192–210.Google Scholar
  4. Alonso-Quecuty, M. L. (1992). Deception detection and Reality Monitoring: A new answer to an old question? In F. Lösel, D. Bender, & T. Bliesener (Eds.), Psychology and Law: International perspectives (pp. 328–332). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  5. Alonso-Quecuty, M. L. (1996). Detecting fact from fallacy in child and adult witness accounts. In G. Davies, S. Lloyd-Bostock, M. McMurran, & C. Wilson (Eds.), Psychology, law, and criminal justice: International developments in research and practice (pp. 74–80). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  6. Anson, D. A., Golding, S. L., & Gully, K. J. (1993). Child sexual abuse allegations: Reliability of Criteria-Based Content Analysis. Law and Human Behavior, 17, 331–341.Google Scholar
  7. Burgoon, J. K., Kelly, D. L., Newton, D. A., & Keely-Dyreson, M. P. (1989). The nature of arousal and nonverbal indices. Human Communication Research, 16, 217–255.Google Scholar
  8. Craig, R. A. (1995). Effects of interviewer behavior on children's statements of sexual abuse. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  9. DePaulo, B. M., Anderson, D. E., & Cooper, H. (1999, October). Explicit and implicit deception detection. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Society of Experimental Social Psychologists, St. Louis, Missouri.Google Scholar
  10. DePaulo, B. M., Kirkendol, S. E., Tang, J., & O'Brien, T. P. (1988). The motivational impairment effect in the communication of deception: Replications and extensions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 12, 177–202.Google Scholar
  11. DePaulo, B. M., Lanier, K., & Davis, T. (1983). Detecting deceit of the motivated liar. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 1096–1103.Google Scholar
  12. DePaulo, B. M., LeMay, C. S., & Epstein, J. A. (1991). Effects of importance of success and expectations for success on effectiveness at deceiving. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 14–24.Google Scholar
  13. DePaulo, B. M., & Pfeifer, R. L. (1986). On-the-job experience and skill at detecting deception. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, 249–267.Google Scholar
  14. DePaulo, B. M., Stone, J. L., & Lassiter, G. D. (1985a). Deceiving and detecting deceit. In B. R. Schenkler (Ed.), The self and social life (pp. 323–370). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. DePaulo, B. M., Stone, J. I., & Lassiter, G. D. (1985b). Telling ingratiating lies: Effects of target sex and target attractiveness on verbal and nonverbal deceptive success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1191–2103.Google Scholar
  16. deTurck, M. A. (1991). Training observers to detect spontaneous deception: Effects of gender. Communication Reports, 4, 81–89.Google Scholar
  17. Ekman, P. (1989). Why lies fail and what behaviors betray a lie. In J. C. Yuille (Ed.), Credibility Assessment (pp. 71–82). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  18. Ekman, P. (1992). Telling lies: Clues to deceit in the marketplace, politics and marriage. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  19. Ekman, P., & Frank, M. G. (1993). Lies that fail. In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.), Lying and deception in everyday life (pp. 184–201). New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  20. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: Categories, Origins, usage, and coding. Semiotica, 1, 49–97.Google Scholar
  21. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1972). Hand movements. Journal of Communication, 22, 353–374.Google Scholar
  22. Ekman, P., & O'sullivan, M. (1991). Who can catch a liar? American Psychologist, 46, 913–920.Google Scholar
  23. Ekman, P., O'sullivan, M., & Frank, M. G. (1999). A few can catch a liar. Psychological Science, 10, 263–266.Google Scholar
  24. Ekman, P., O'sullivan, M., Friesen, W. V., & Scherer, K. (1991). Face, voice, and body in detecting deceit. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 15, 125–135.Google Scholar
  25. Frank, M. G., & Ekman, P. (1997). The ability to detect deceit generalizes across different types of high-stake lies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1429–1439.Google Scholar
  26. Goldman-Eisler, F. (1968). Psycholinguistics: Experiments in spontaneous speech. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  27. Gudjonsson, G. H. (1992). The psychology of interrogations, confessions and testimony. Chichester, England: Wiley.Google Scholar
  28. Hernandez-Fernaud, E., & Alonso-Quecuty, M. (1997). The cognitive interview and lie detection: A new magnifying glass for Sherlock Holmes? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 11, 55–68.Google Scholar
  29. Hershkowitz, I., Lamb, M. E., Sternberg, K. J., & Esplin, P. W. (1997). The relationships among interviewer utterance type, CBCA scores and the richness of children's responses. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 2, 169–176.Google Scholar
  30. Höfer, E., & Akehurst, L., & Metzger, G. (1996, August). Reality monitoring: A chance for further development of CBCA? Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the European Association on Psychology and Law, Siena, Italy.Google Scholar
  31. Honts, C. R. (1994). Assessing children's credibility: Scientific and legal issues in 1994. North Dakota Law Review, 70, 879–903.Google Scholar
  32. Horowitz, S. W., Lamb, M. E., Esplin, P. W., & Boychuk, T. D., Krispin, O., & Reiter-Lavery, L. (1997). Reliability of criteria-based content analysis of child witness statements. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 2, 11–21.Google Scholar
  33. Johnson, M. K., Hashtroudi, S., & Lindsay, D. S. (1993). Source monitoring. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 3–28.Google Scholar
  34. Johnson, M. K., & Raye, C. L. (1981). Reality Monitoring. Psychological Review, 88, 67–85.Google Scholar
  35. Johnson, M. K., & Raye, C. L. (1998). False memories and confabulation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2, 137–145.Google Scholar
  36. Köhnken, G. (1987). Training police officers to detect deceptive eyewitness statements. Does it work? Social Behavior, 2, 1–17.Google Scholar
  37. Köhnken, G. (1989). Behavioral correlates of statement credibility: Theories, paradigms and results. In H. Wegener, F. Lösel, & J. Haisch (Eds.), Criminal behavior and the justice system: psychological perspectives (pp. 271–289). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  38. Köhnken, G. (1990). Glaubw¨urdigkeit: Untersuchungen zu einem psychologischen konstrukt. M¨unchen, Germany: Psychologie Verlags Union.Google Scholar
  39. K¨ohnken, G. (1996). Social psychology and the law. In G. R. Semin, & K. Fiedler (Eds.), Applied Social Psychology (pp. 257–282). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  40. Köhnken, G., Schimossek, E., Aschermann, E., & Höfer, E. (1995). The cognitive interview and the assessment of the credibility of adult's statements. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80, 671–684.Google Scholar
  41. Kraut, R. E. (1980). Humans as lie detectors: Some second thoughts. Journal of Communication, 30, 209–216.Google Scholar
  42. Lamb, M. E., Sternberg, K. J., Esplin, P. W. Hershkowitz, I., Orbach, Y., & Hovav, M. (1997a). Criterion-based content analysis: A field validation study. Child Abuse and Neglect, 21, 255–264.Google Scholar
  43. Lamb, M. E., Sternberg, K. J., & Esplin, P. W. Hershkowitz, I., & Orbach, Y. (1997b). Assessing the credibility of children's allegations of sexual abuse: A survey of recent research. Learning and Individual Differences, 9, 175–194.Google Scholar
  44. Landry, K., & Brigham, J. C. (1992). The effect of training in Criteria-Based Content Analysis on the ability to detect deception in adults. Law and Human Behavior, 16, 663–675.Google Scholar
  45. Lane, J. D., & DePaulo, B. M. (1999). Completing Coyne's cycle: Dysphorics' ability to detect deception. Journal of Research in Personality, 33, 311–329.Google Scholar
  46. Levine, T. R., Park, H. S., & McCornack, S. A. (1999). Accuracy in detecting truths and lies: Documenting the “veracity effect.” Communication Monographs, 66, 125–144.Google Scholar
  47. Lykken, D. T. (1960). The validity of the guilty knowledge technique: The effects of faking. Journal of Applied Psychology, 44, 258–262.Google Scholar
  48. Lykken, D. T. (1998). A tremor in the blood: Uses and abuses of the lie detector. New York: Plenum Trade.Google Scholar
  49. Mann, S., Vrij, A., & Bull, R. (1998, September). Telling and detecting true lies. Paper presented at the eighth annual meeting of the European Association on Psychology and Law, Cracow, Poland.Google Scholar
  50. Manzanero, A. L., & Diges, M. (1996). Effects of preparation on internal and external memories. In G. Davies, S. Lloyd-Bostock, M. McMurran, & C. Wilson (Eds.), Psychology, law, and criminal justice: International developments in research and practice (pp. 56–63). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  51. McCornack, S. A. (1997). The generation of deceptive messages: Laying the groundwork for a viable theory of interpersonal deception. In J. O. Greene (Ed.), Message production: Advances in communication theory. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  52. Porter, S., & Yuille, J. C. (1996). The language of deceit: An investigation of the verbal clues to deception in the interrogation context. Law and Human Behavior, 20, 443–459.Google Scholar
  53. Raskin, D. C. (1979). Orienting and defensive reflexes in the detection of deception. In H. D. Kimmel, E. H. Van Olst, & J. F. Orlebeke (Ed.), The orienting reflex in humans (pp. 587- 605). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  54. Raskin, D. C. (1982). The scientific basis of polygraph techniques and their uses in the judicial process. In A. Trankell (Ed.), Reconstructing the past (pp. 317–371). Stockholm: Norsted & Soners.Google Scholar
  55. Raskin, D. C. (1986). The polygraph in 1986: Scientific, professional, and legal issues surrounding acceptance of polygraph evidence. Utah Law Review, 29, 29–74.Google Scholar
  56. Raskin, D. C., & P. W. Esplin (1991). Statement Validity Assessment: Interview procedures and content analysis of children's statements of sexual abuse. Behavioral Assessment, 13, 265–291.Google Scholar
  57. Reid, J. E. (1947). A revised questioning technique in lie detection tests. Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 37, 542–547.Google Scholar
  58. Roberts, K. P., Lamb, M. E., Zale, J. L., & Randall, D. W. (1998). Qualitative differences in children's accounts of confirmed and unconfirmed incidents of sexual abuse. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the American Psychology-Law Society, Redondo Beach, LA.Google Scholar
  59. Roediger, H. L. (1996). Memory illusions. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 76–100.Google Scholar
  60. Ruby, C. L., & Brigham, J. C. (1997). The usefulness of the criteria-based content analysis technique in distinguishing between truthful and fabricated allegations. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 3, 705–737.Google Scholar
  61. Ruby, C. L., & Brigham, J. C. (1998). Can Criteria-Based Content Analysis distinguish between true and false statements of African-American speakers? Law and Human Behavior, 22, 369–388.Google Scholar
  62. Sporer, S. L. (1997). The less travelled road to truth: Verbal cues in deception detection in accounts of fabricated and self-experienced events. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 11, 373–397.Google Scholar
  63. Steller, M. (1989). Recent developments in statement analysis. In J. C. Yuille (Ed.), Credibility Assessment (pp. 135–154). Deventer, the Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  64. Steller, M., & Köhnken, G. (1989). Criteria-Based Content Analysis. In D. C. Raskin (Ed.), Psychological methods in criminal investigation and evidence (pp. 217- 245). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  65. Undeutsch, U. (1967). Beurteilung der Glaubhaftigkeit von Aussagen. In U. Undeutsch (Ed.), Handbuch der Psychologie Vol. 11: Forensische Psychologie (pp. 26–181). Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  66. Undeutsch, U. (1989). The development of statement reality analysis. In J. C. Yuille (Ed.), Credibility Assessment (pp. 101–121). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  67. Vrij, A. (1991). Misverstanden tussen politie en allochtonen: Sociaal-psychologische aspecten van verdacht zijn. Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij.Google Scholar
  68. Vrij, A. (1993). Credibility judgments of detectives: The impact of nonverbal behavior, social skills and physical characteristics on impression formation. Journal of Social Psychology, 133, 601–611.Google Scholar
  69. Vrij, A. (1994). The impact of information and setting on detection of deception by police detectives. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 18, 117–137.Google Scholar
  70. Vrij, A. (1995). Behavioral correlates of deception in a simulated police interview. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 129, 15–29.Google Scholar
  71. Vrij, A. (1998). Nonverbal communication and credibility. In A. Memon, A. Vrij, & R. Bull, Psychology and law: Truthfulness, accuracy and credibility (pp. 32–59). Maidenhead, Great Britain: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  72. Vrij, A. (2000). Detecting lies and deceit: The psychology of lying and implications for professional Practice. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  73. Vrij, A., & Akehurst, L. (1998). Verbal communication and credibility: Statement Validity Assessment. In A. Memon, A. Vrij, & R. Bull, Psychology and law: Truthfulness, accuracy and credibility (pp. 3–31). Maidenhead, Great Britain: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  74. Vrij, A., Akehurst, L., & Morris, P. M. (1997). Individual differences in hand movements during deception. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 21, 87–102.Google Scholar
  75. Vrij, A., & Baxter, M. (1999). Accuracy and confidence in detecting truths and lies in elaborations and denials: Truth bias, lie bias and individual differences. Expert Evidence, 7, 25–36.Google Scholar
  76. Vrij, A., Harden, F., Terry, J., Edward, K., & Bull, R. (in press). The influence of personal characteristics, stakes and lie complexity on the accuracy and confidence to detect deceit. In R. Roesch, R. R. Corrado, & R. J. Dempster (Eds.), Psychology in the courts: International advances in knowledge. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.Google Scholar
  77. Vrij, A., Kneller, W., & Mann, S. (2000). The effect of informing liars about Criteria-Based Content Analysis on their ability to deceive CBCA-raters. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 5, 57–70.Google Scholar
  78. Vrij, A., & Mann, S. (in press, a). Telling and detecting lies in a high-stake situation: The case of a convicted murderer. Applied Cognitive Psychology.Google Scholar
  79. Vrij, A., & Mann, S. (in press, b). Who killed my relative? Police officers' ability to detect reallife high stake lies. Psychology, Crime, & Law.Google Scholar
  80. Vrij, A., & Semin, G. R. (1996). Lie experts' beliefs about nonverbal indicators of deception. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 20, 1, 65–81.Google Scholar
  81. Vrij, A., Semin, G. R., & Bull, R. (1996). Insight in behavior displayed during deception. Human Communication Research, 22, 544–562.Google Scholar
  82. Winkel, F. W., & Vrij, A. (1995). Verklaringen van kinderen in interviews: Een experimenteel onderzoek naar de diagnostische waarde van Criteria Based Content Analysis. Tijdschrift voor Ontwikkelingspsychologie, 22, 61–74.Google Scholar
  83. Zaparniuk, J., Yuille, J. C., & Taylor, S. (1995). Assessing the credibility of true and false statements. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 18, 343–352.Google Scholar
  84. Zuckerman, M., DePaulo, B. M., & Rosenthal, R. (1981). Verbal and nonverbal communication of deception. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, volume 14 (pp. 1–57). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aldert Vrij
    • 1
  • Katherine Edward
    • 2
  • Kim P. Roberts
    • 3
  • Ray Bull
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of PortsmouthPortsmouthUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of PortsmouthUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentBethesda

Personalised recommendations