Lying and executive control: An experimental investigation using ego depletion and goal neglect

E. Debey*, B. Verschuere, G. Crombez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigated whether lying requires executive control using a reaction-time based lie test. We hypothesized that (1) goal neglect induced by a long response-stimulus interval (RSI; 5-8 s) would make lying harder relative to a short RSI (.2 s) that promoted attentional focus, and (2) participants whose executive control resources were depleted by an initial executive control task would experience more difficulty to lie than control participants who performed a task that required little executive control. Across two experiments, the ego depletion manipulation did not reliably affect lying. Both experiments revealed that the cognitive cost associated with lying was larger for the long compared to the short RSI. This finding supports the idea that lying requires more executive control than truth telling. The manipulation of RSI may provide a simple, yet effective means to improve lie detection accuracy. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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