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To act truthfully: Nonverbal behavior and strategies during a police interrogation

Journal article
Authors Leif Strömwall
Maria Hartwig
Pär-Anders Granhag
Published in Psychology, Crime & Law
Volume 12
Issue 2
Pages 207-219
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 207-219
Language en
Keywords Nonverbal behaviour, Cues to deception, Police interrogations, Truth tellers’ and liars’ strategies
Subject categories Psychology


In an experiment, nonverbal indicators of deception in police interrogations of mock crimes were examined. Both vocal and nonvocal behaviours were scored. Thirty participants were subjected to long interrogations (over 9 minutes) conducted by 30 experienced police officers, asked to interrogate as they normally do. Although the liars reported being significantly more nervous, and found the task more strenuous than the truth tellers, no differences in the nonverbal behaviours scored were found. In an analysis of the strategies employed, both truth tellers and liars were found to try to not make excess movements. The principal verbal content strategy for the liars was to keep the story simple, and for truth tellers to keep the story real. Reasons for why, in this demanding situation, the truth tellers and liars could not be distinguished by their nonverbal behaviour are discussed.

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