Verifiability on the run: an experimental study on the verifiability approach to malingered symptoms

Irena Boskovic*, Claudia Tejada Gallardo, Aldert Vrij, Lorraine Hope, Harald Merckelbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Several studies on the verifiability approach found that truth-tellers report more verifiable details than liars. Therefore, we wanted to test whether such a difference would emerge in the context of malingered symptoms. We obtained statements from undergraduates (N = 53) who had been allocated to three different conditions: truth-tellers, coached malingerers and naive malingerers. Truth-tellers carried out an intensive physical exercise and after a short interval wrote a report about their experience and elicited symptoms. The two malingering groups had to fabricate a story about the physical activity and its symptoms. Truth-tellers did not generate more verifiable details than malingerers. However, malingerers reported more non-verifiable details than truth-tellers. Coached and naive malingerers did not differ in this respect. Relative to truth-tellers, naive malingerers reported more symptoms-related non-verifiable details, while coached malingerers reported more exercise-related non-verifiable details. Focusing on non-verifiable details may inform the detection of malingered symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry Psychology and Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • deception detection
  • malingering
  • symptoms
  • verifiability approach

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