Background: Academic research on deception detection has largely focused on the detection of past events. For many applied purposes, however, the detection of false reports about someone's intention merits attention. Based on the verbal deception detection paradigm, we explored whether true statements on intentions were more detailed and more specific than false statements on intentions, particularly when instructed to be as specific as possible.
Method: Participants (n = 222) lied or told the truth about their upcoming travel plans either providing 'as much information as possible’ (standard instructions) or being 'as specific as possible’ (i.e., mentioning times, locations, places; specific instructions), resulting in four conditions (truthful vs. deceptive intention by standard instructions vs. specific instructions). We collected data via a custom-made web app and performed automated verbal content analysis of participants’ written answers.
Findings: We did not find a significant difference in participants’ statements specificity. The instruction to be as specific as possible promoted more specific information but did not help to discern honest from deceptive flying intentions.
Conclusion: The experiment reported here attempted to demonstrate automated detection of verbal deception of intentions. The difficulty in capturing genuine, intentions, and the non-intrusive, non-interactive questioning approach might explain the null findings and raise questions for further research towards large-scale applicability. We conclude with suggestions for a novel framework on semi-interactive information elicitation.
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