Unraveling the roles of orienting and inhibition in the Concealed Information Test

Nathalie klein Selle*, Bruno Verschuere, Merel Kindt, Ewout Meijer, Gershon Ben-Shakhar

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Concealed Information Test (CIT) is a well-validated tool for physiological and behavioral detection of concealed knowledge. Two distinct theoretical frameworks have been proposed to explain the differential responses to the concealed critical items: orienting response theory versus arousal inhibition theory. klein Selle, Verschuere, Kindt, Meijer, and Ben-Shakhar (2016), however, argued for a response fractionation model and showed that, while the skin conductance reflects pure orienting, both the respiratory and heart rate measures reflect arousal inhibition. The present study intends to (1) provide a constructive replication of klein Selle et al. (2016) using the autobiographical CIT, and (2) extend their work by testing an additional prediction derived from orienting theory, using an item-salience manipulation. One hundred and nine participants were tested on four high salient and four low salient identity items. Half of the participants were motivated to hide their identity (orienting + arousal inhibition), while the other half were motivated to reveal their identity (orienting only). Confirming earlier findings, the results revealed a fractionation between the different measures: while the skin conductance response (SCR) increased to a similar extent in the two motivational conditions, the respiration line length (RLL) shortened and the heart rate (HR) decelerated solely in the conceal condition. Moreover, while the SCR was larger for high than for low salient critical items, the RLL and HR responses were similar for these two item types. These data led us to conclude that, in the CIT, the skin conductance measure reflects orienting and the respiratory and heart rate measures reflect arousal inhibition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-639
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Concealed Information Test (CIT)
  • Orienting response
  • Arousal inhibition
  • Skin conductance response
  • Respiration line length
  • Heart rate

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