Psychopathy and deception detection using indirect measures

Authors

  • Jessica R. Klaver,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
      Correspondence should be addressed to Jessica R. Klaver, Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, Wards Island Complex, New York NY 10035, USA (e-mail: krpgjkk@omh.state.ny.us).
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Zina Lee,

    1. Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
    2. Department of Psychology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Alicia Spidel,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Stephen D. Hart

    1. Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence should be addressed to Jessica R. Klaver, Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, Wards Island Complex, New York NY 10035, USA (e-mail: krpgjkk@omh.state.ny.us).

Abstract

Purpose. The goal of the current study was to examine psychopathy and indirect measures of deception detection.

Methods. Undergraduate students (N=444) viewed video clips of adult male offenders telling true and false stories about crimes. For each story, participants rated indirect measures of deception (thinking hard, nervousness, emotional arousal, and attempting to control behaviour) and credibility. Participants also chose the story they believed to be true and rated the confidence in their decision. Offenders were rated on the psychopathy checklist – revised.

Results. Consistent with past research, deception detection accuracy was at chance level and unrelated to confidence. Ratings on indirect measures by undergraduates did not distinguish true and false statements in offenders. Psychopathic offenders were less successful at deception than non-psychopathic offenders. Psychopathic traits were associated with lower perceived credibility during deception and ratings of thinking harder while lying.

Conclusions. The results suggest that indirect measures of deception detection may be less useful in offender samples. Further, the findings are consistent with the general inability of psychopathic offenders to demonstrate superior deception skills in empirical studies. Indirect measures of deception uniquely related to psychopathic traits offer new insight into the relationship between psychopathy and deception.

Ancillary