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Fantasy proneness as a confounder of verbal lie detection tools

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This study investigated whether high fantasy-prone individuals have superior storytelling abilities. It also explored whether this trait is related to specific linguistic features (i.e. self-references, cognitive complexity, and emotional words). Participants high (n = 30) and low (n = 30) on a fantasy proneness scale were instructed to write down a true and a fabricated story about an aversive situation in which they had been the victim. Stories were then examined using two verbal lie detection approaches: criteria-based content analysis (CBCA) and linguistic inquiry and word count (LIWC). Irrespective of the truth status of the stories, independent observers rated stories of high fantasy-prone individuals as being richer in all nine CBCA elements than those of low fantasy-prone individuals. Furthermore, overall, high fantasy-prone people used more self-references in their stories compared with low fantasy-prone individuals. High fantasy prones' fabricated stories scored higher on various truth indices than authentic stories of low fantasy prones. Thus, high fantasy-prone people are good in creating a sense of authenticity, even when they fabricate stories. Forensic experts should bear this in mind when they employ verbal lie detection tools. 

    Research areas

  • ACCOUNTS, ADOLESCENTS, COMPUTER-MEDIATED COMMUNICATION, CUES, DECEPTION, EVENTS, LANGUAGE, LINGUISTIC STYLES, STORY, TRUTHFUL, criteria-based content analysis, false allegations, fantasy proneness, linguistic inquiry and word count, verbal lie detection
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-260
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010