University of Gothenburg

Deception and interrogations

People try to detect deception in everyday life and in forensic settings. Everyone attempting to detect lies has beliefs about deception, so-called subjective cues to deception. Are people good at detecting deceit, and are their beliefs in accordance with objective cues to deception? Suspects sometimes lie in criminal investigations, and they use strategies in order to deceive the investigators. How should an investigator try to detect deceit – analysis of the nonverbal behavior and/or verbal content, or by using an interrogation technique that elicits reliable cues to deception? Our research on the deception and interrogations theme has focused on all these questions.

Areas of research

1. Deception and lie detection

In this research area our focus has been on nonverbal correlates of deception, and the human ability to detect deception in adults and children without specialized techniques such as statement analysis and/or the polygraph. Included is furthermore research about the beliefs about deception held by groups of professionals, and studies investigating how people tell convincing lies.

2. Credibility assessment

In this area we investigate the ability of two statement analytic tools – Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) and Reality Monitoring (RM) – to discriminate between truthful and deceptive statements. Furthermore, we examine other methods of making credibility assessments of adults’ and children’s verbal statements, such as the criteria suggested by the Supreme Court of Sweden.

3. Interrogating to detect deception

This research area concerns psychological aspects of police interrogations, including liars’ and truth-tellers’ strategies. First and foremost, we have proposed a technique for interrogating suspects (Strategic Use of Evidence), and continue to develop and test the technique.

  • Willén, R.M., & Strömwall, L.A. (published online). Offenders' lies and truths: An evaluation of the Supreme Court of Sweden's criteria for credibility assessment. Psychology, Crime and Law. DOI: 10.1080/1068316X.2010.548815
  • Clemens, F., Granhag, P.A., Strömwall, L.A. Vrij, A., Landström, S., Roos af Hjelmsäter, E. & Hartwig, M. (2010). Skulking around the dinosaur: Eliciting cues to children’s deception via strategic disclosure of evidence. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 925-940.
  • Vrij, A., Granhag, P.A. & Porter, S. (2010). Pitfalls and opportunities in nonverbal and verbal lie detection. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 11, 89-121.
  • Granhag, P.A., Strömwall, L.A., & Landström, S. (2006). Children recalling an event repeatedly: Effects on RM and CBCA scores. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 11, 81–98.
  • Hartwig, M, Granhag, P.A., Strömwall, L.A., & Kronkvist, O. (2006). Strategic use of evidence during police interviews: When training to detect deception works. Law and Human Behavior, 30, 603-619.
  • Strömwall, L.A., Hartwig, M., & Granhag, P.A. (2006). To act truthfully: Nonverbal behaviour and strategies during a police interrogation. Psychology, Crime & Law, 12, 207-219.
  • Granhag, P.A., & Strömwall, L.A. (Eds.) (2004). The detection of deception in forensic contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hartwig, M., Granhag, P.A., Strömwall, L.A., & Vrij, A. (2004). Police officers’ lie detection accuracy: Interrogating freely versus observing video. Police Quarterly, 7, 429-456.
  • Strömwall, L.A., & Granhag, P.A. (2003). How to detect deception? Arresting the beliefs of police officers, prosecutors and judges. Psychology, Crime, & Law, 9, 19-36.