Document Type




First Advisor's Name

Ronald P. Fisher

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Janat F. Parker

Third Advisor's Name

Nadja Schreiber

Fourth Advisor's Name

Lisa Stolzenberg


Deception, Cognitive Load, Lie Detection, Cognitive Capacity, Veracity Judgment, Deception Detection

Date of Defense



The current study applied classic cognitive capacity models to examine the effect of cognitive load on deception. The study also examined whether the manipulation of cognitive load would result in the magnification of differences between liars and truth-tellers. In the first study, 87 participants engaged in videotaped interviews while being either deceptive or truthful about a target event. Some participants engaged in a concurrent secondary task while being interviewed. Performance on the secondary task was measured. As expected, truth tellers performed better on secondary task items than liars as evidenced by higher accuracy rates. These results confirm the long held assumption that being deceptive is more cognitively demanding than being truthful. In the second part of the study, the videotaped interviews of both liars and truth-tellers were shown to 69 observers. After watching the interviews, observers were asked to make a veracity judgment for each participant. Observers made more accurate veracity judgments when viewing participants who engaged in a concurrent secondary task than when viewing those who did not. Observers also indicated that participants who engaged in a concurrent secondary task appeared to think harder than participants who did not. This study provides evidence that engaging in deception is more cognitively demanding than telling the truth. As hypothesized, having participants engage in a concurrent secondary task led to the magnification of differences between liars and truth tellers. This magnification of differences led to more accurate veracity rates in a second group of observers. The implications for deception detection are discussed.





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