Strategies of impression management among deceivers and truth-tellers: How liars attempt to convince


Psychological Sciences

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American Journal of Forensic Psychology

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A growing body of literature exists to demonstrate behavioral characteristics that discriminate deception from truth-telling. Somewhat less effort has been expended to understand the subjective perceptions of deceivers. The present article compliments previous research through consideration of conscious strategies employed by deceivers and truth-tellers in a simulated investigative interview. This is a descriptive undertaking, designed to increase our understanding of subjective strategies of impression management and deception. One hundred and eight participants either stole or replaced a stolen exam key from a psychology professor's office. One-half of the participants were instructed to respond honestly and to help with an investigation, while the other half were instructed to distort their statement so that they were not implicated in any wrongdoing. Also, half of the participants were given a pep talk regarding the importance of deception. The deceivers were motivated by receiving one dollar for a convincing story, and they would be eligible to win one of two twenty dollar prizes if theirs was among the most convincing/helpful accounts. After completing a scripted derivative of the Cognitive Interview, each participant was asked what he/she thought had been important in telling a convincing/helpful story. The fourteen subjective strategies of deception/truth-telling that emerged are described. Importantly, if the strategies listed are employed as described, they are not likely to generate successful deceptions. Copyright 2006 American Journal of Forensic Psychology.

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