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Inside Criminal Minds: Offenders’ Strategies when Lying

Journal article
Authors Leif Strömwall
Rebecca M. Willén
Published in Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profliling
Volume 8
Issue 3
Pages 271-281
ISSN 1544-4767
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 271-281
Language en
Keywords deception; offenders; strategies when lying; information management;
Subject categories Psychology, Applied Psychology


This study aimed at extending the deception literature by examining lie-telling strategies given by persons with criminal experience. In interviews taking place in prisons, offenders (N = 35) provided lie-telling strategies in a free narrative style. In an inductive content analysis, we coded both all strategies provided as well as one principal strategy for each participant. In total 13 strategies were identified, which were grouped into three broader category groups: General verbal, General nonverbal and Specific interview strategies. The most often stated strategies were Close to truth, Eye contact, and No strategy. The most often stated principal strategies were Close to truth, Not giving away information, and No strategy. Some participants provided strategies, such as not giving away information at all in interviews/interrogations, which showed a sophisticated understanding of the police interview situation and the task of the police and prosecutor. Overall, the participants showed great diversity in preferred lie-telling strategy. The results are partly in line with previous research from student samples, and provide new insights into the criminally experienced individuals’ lie-telling strategies. The results are discussed with regard to impression and information management and police interrogation practice.

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