Disciplines

Linguistics | Phonetics and Phonology | Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics

Abstract

Research on deception within the field of linguistics has been largely focused upon the lexical aspect of lies. However, while the words a liar uses may reveal the lie in some cases, there are certain prosodic features of speech (e.g. pitch or tempo) that may be correlated to lying. This study focuses on these features in an attempt to decode deception. In an experiment with a representative sample of a university campus population, participants were asked to lie for science in a game of ‘Two Truths and a Lie’. Each participant’s speech was recorded while they constructed spontaneous truths and lies. Participants were then asked to complete a post-experiment survey in an effort to gauge their perceptions on lying; this was done in an effort to determine if their perceptions may influence the lies they tell. The resulting data were subjected to acoustic analysis to quantify their prosodic features, which were subsequently analyzed statistically to determine the presence, and strength, of any correlation between these characteristics of speech and deception.

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The Linguistic Features of Deceptive Speech

Research on deception within the field of linguistics has been largely focused upon the lexical aspect of lies. However, while the words a liar uses may reveal the lie in some cases, there are certain prosodic features of speech (e.g. pitch or tempo) that may be correlated to lying. This study focuses on these features in an attempt to decode deception. In an experiment with a representative sample of a university campus population, participants were asked to lie for science in a game of ‘Two Truths and a Lie’. Each participant’s speech was recorded while they constructed spontaneous truths and lies. Participants were then asked to complete a post-experiment survey in an effort to gauge their perceptions on lying; this was done in an effort to determine if their perceptions may influence the lies they tell. The resulting data were subjected to acoustic analysis to quantify their prosodic features, which were subsequently analyzed statistically to determine the presence, and strength, of any correlation between these characteristics of speech and deception.