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Deception perception (Patel et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-09-06, 21:27 authored by Bindiya Patel, Ziyun Zhang, Carolyn McGettigan, Michel Belyk

Purpose: Communication is as much persuasion as it is the transfer of information. This creates a tension between the interests of the speaker and those of the listener, as dishonest speakers naturally attempt to hide deceptive speech and listeners are faced with the challenge of sorting truths from lies. Listeners with hearing impairment in particular may have differing levels of access to the acoustical cues that give away deceptive speech. A greater tendency toward speech pauses has been hypothesized to result from the cognitive demands of lying convincingly. Higher vocal pitch has also been hypothesized to mark the increased anxiety of a dishonest speaker.

Method: Listeners with or without hearing impairments heard short utterances from natural conversations, some of which had been digitally manipulated to contain either increased pausing or raised vocal pitch. Listeners were asked to guess whether each statement was a lie in a two-alternative forced-choice task. Participants were also asked explicitly which cues they believed had influenced their decisions.

Results: Statements were more likely to be perceived as a lie when they contained pauses, but not when vocal pitch was raised. This pattern held regardless of hearing ability. In contrast, both groups of listeners self-reported using vocal pitch cues to identify deceptive statements, though at lower rates than pauses.

Conclusions: Listeners may have only partial awareness of the cues that influence their impression of dishonesty. Listeners with hearing impairment may place greater weight on acoustical cues according to the differing degrees of access provided by hearing aids.

Supplemental Material S1. Raw data.

Supplemental Material S2. Proportion data.

Supplemental Material S3. Open code.

Patel, B., Zhang, Z., McGettigan, C., & Belyk, M. (2023). Speech with pauses sounds deceptive to listeners with and without hearing impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 66(10), 3735–3744.


This research was supported by a research leadership award from the Leverhulme Trust (RL-2016-013; awarded to Carolyn McGettigan).


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