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Detecting concealed information: The role of individual differences in executive functions and social desirability

George Visu-Petra, Mircea Miclea, Ioan Buş & Laura Visu-Petra.
Psychology, Crime & Law; Volume 20, Issue 1, 2014, pages 20-36.

The aim of the study was to assess the relationship between deception efficiency and individual differences in executive functioning (EF) and personality, with a particular focus on the influence of social desirability. A mock crime scenario was used, followed by a Concealed Information Test based on reaction times (RT-based CIT). Individual measures of EF (inhibition, shifting, and working memory [WM]) and personality (the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire – Revised, EPQ-R), plus a measure of social desirability (Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding, BIDR) were collected in a distinct session. Results indicated that better executive functions were associated with faster responses to irrelevant items in the RT-based CIT. In a regression analysis, individual differences in shifting and spatial WM were significant predictors of the extra-time taken to lie, compare to truth-telling. No significant relations between deception outcomes and personality measures were noted. Looking at social desirability, the Impression Management scale predicted a further portion of variance in the extra time required to lie, beyond the contribution of executive functions. The utility of an individual differences approach to deception is advocated.



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