Current Projects


We are examining how speaking in a non-native language affects witnesses’ abilities to deceive and observers’ abilities to detect that deception by:

  1. Testing people’s abilities to detect non-native speakers’ deception. Specific questions include: Are observers better able to discriminate between lie- and truth-tellers who are speaking in their native vs. non-native languages? How does performance vary according to a deceiver’s exact proficiency in the non-native language? Does expertise (e.g., law enforcement experience, familiarity with non-native speech) affect discrimination and bias? What roles do witnesses’ linguistic speech characteristics (e.g., accent, comprehensibility) play in impression formation and decision-making?
  2. Examining the cues to non-native speakers’ deception. Specific questions include: Are verbal and nonverbal cues to deception influenced by speakers’ language proficiencies? Do actual cues to deception match observers’ beliefs? Is deceiving in a non-native (vs. native) language more cognitively or emotionally challenging?
  3. Exploring whether interpreter presence mitigates proficiency effects. Specific questions include: How does the use of professional interpreters affect witnesses’ impressions of the courtroom experience and rapport development? Do interpreters improve the quantity and quality of information provided by witnesses with different levels of language proficiency? Are people better able to detect deception when non-native speakers are afforded the assistance of interpreters?


We are studying whether directing witnesses’ and observers’ cognitive processes can facilitate deception detection. This program of research involves:

  1. Examining how witnesses’ attributions affect deception. Specific questions include: Does attributing arousal to an external source make deception more cognitively challenging? Are the verbal and nonverbal cues revealed during deception affected by attributions? How do witnesses’ attributions facilitate or hinder deception detection?
  2. Investigating how the cognitive demands associated with deception detection can affect observers’ performance. Specific questions include: Does limiting exposure to witnesses (i.e., extreme thin-slicing) affect deception detection? To what extent do the amount and type of cognitive demands placed on observers affect their decision-making? Is deception detection improved when the use of intuition (vs. deliberation) is encouraged?


We are investigating the extent to which long-held notions about deception and its detection are valid by:

  1. Exploring how the deception detection task itself might drive performance. Specific questions include: Does providing observers with multiple response options affect accuracy? Can encouraging observers to express their uncertainty improve decision-making? How does anchoring or focusing observers on a specific aspect of the interview change performance? Do observers’ dynamic (second-to-second) decisions during an interview better their abilities to detect deception?
  2. Refining approaches to operationalizing deception and its underlying processes. Specific questions include: What proportion of deceptive and truthful accounts contain (in)accurate details and omissions? How do lie-tellers’ and truth-tellers’ strategies change across multiphasic interviews? Are popular measures of physiological arousal and cognitive demands during deception reliable and valid?


We are always exploring new ways to assess and improve legal decision-making. Currently, we are interested in:

  1. Examining the performance of special populations. These studies focus on how the motivations, experiences, and training of oft-presumed deception experts (e.g., justice system officials, individuals with psychopathic traits) affect strategy use and deception detection.
  2. Developing the Interview and Interrogation Assessment InstrumentTM. This multi-phase project involves the conceptualization and validation of a psychological instrument for evaluating coercive pressures in investigative interviews.