Consistency does not aid detection of feigned symptoms, overreporting does: Two explorative studies on symptom stability among truth tellers and feigners

Irena Boskovic*, Lisette Zwaan, Victoria Baillie, Harald Merckelbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Practitioners always want to exclude the possibility that a patient is feigning symptoms. Some experts have suggested that an inconsistent symptom presentation across time (i.e., intraindividual variability) is indicative of feigning. We investigated how individuals with genuine pain-related symptoms (truth tellers; Study 1 n = 32; Study 2 n = 48) and people feigning such complaints (feigners; Study 1 n = 32; Study 2 n = 28) rated the intensity of their symptoms across a 5-day period. In both studies, feigners reported on all 5 days significantly higher symptom intensities than people with genuine complaints, but the two groups did not differ with regard to symptom (in)consistency. Thus, persistently inflated, rather than inconsistent, reports of symptom intensity over time are suggestive of feigning. The implications and limitations of our work are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1458-1466
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Neuropsychology-Adult
Issue number6
Early online date24 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2022


  • Consistency heuristic
  • Feigning
  • SRSI
  • Symptom overreporting

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