Suppressing the truth as a mechanism of deception: Delta plots reveal the role of response inhibition in lying

E. Debey, R.K. Ridderinkhof, J. De Houwer, M. De Schryver, B. Verschuere*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Web of Science)


Lying takes more time than telling the truth. Because lying involves withholding the truth, this "lie effect" has been related to response inhibition. We investigated the response inhibition hypothesis of lying using the delta-plot method: A leveling-off of the standard increase of the lie effect with slower reaction times would be indicative of successful response inhibition. Participants performed a reaction-time task that required them to alternate between lying and truth telling in response to autobiographical questions. In two experiments, we found that the delta plot of the lie effect leveled off with longer response latencies, but only in a group of participants who had better inhibitory skills as indexed by relatively small lie effects. This finding supports the role of response inhibition in lying. We elaborate on repercussions for cognitive models of deception and the data analysis of reaction-time based lie tests. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-159
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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