The guilty knowledge test and the modified stroop task in detection of deception: An explorative study

I.M. Engelhard*, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, M.A. van den Hout

*Corresponding author for this work

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The current study tested whether a simple Stroop paradigm can be used to detect deceptive behavior. 40 university students (34 women), half of whom committed a mock crime, were administered a Guilty Knowledge Test and modified Stroop task to detect guilt or innocence. The Guilty Knowledge Test is a well-known psychophysiological detection method, which consists of multiple-choice questions about details of the crime while skin conductance is recorded. Subjects possessing guilty knowledge are expected to show enhanced differential responses to the relevant stimuli. The modified Stroop task required color-naming of colored words related to the mock crime or an irrelevant crime. Each version of the Stroop task was presented in story form. Subjects possessing guilty knowledge were expected to produce larger reaction times to the relevant version relative to the irrelevant version. The test correctly identified 100% of innocent participants and 78% of guilty participants. In contrast, Stroop interference, i.e., reaction times for irrelevant crime details subtracted from those for mock crime details, did not differentiate between the two groups, suggesting that the story form of the Stroop paradigm is not suitable for lie detection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-691
JournalPsychological Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003

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