Applying the Verifiability Approach to Deception Detection in Alibi Witness Situations

Zarah Vernham, Aldert Vrij, Galit Nahari, Sharon Leal, Samantha Mann, Liam Satchell, Robin Orthey

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The application of alibi witness scenarios to deception detection has been overlooked. Experiment 1 was a study of the verifiability approach in which truth-telling pairs completed a mission together, whereas in lying pairs one individual completed this mission alone and the other individual committed a mock theft. All pairs were instructed to convince the interviewer that they completed the mission together by writing individual statements on their own followed by a collective statement together as a pair. In the individual statements, truth-telling pairs provided more checkable details that demonstrated they completed the mission together than lying pairs, whereas lying pairs provided more uncheckable details than truth-telling pairs. The collective statements made truth-telling pairs provide significantly more checkable details that demonstrated they were together in comparison to the individual statements, whereas no effect was obtained for lying pairs. Receiver Operating Characteristic curves revealed high accuracy rates for discriminating between truths and lies using the verifiability approach across all statement types. Experiment 2 was a lie detection study whereby observers' abilities to discriminate between truths and lies using the verifiability approach were examined. This revealed that applying the verifiability approach to collective statements improved observers' ability to accurately detect deceit. We suggest that the verifiability approach could be used as a lie detection technique and that law enforcement policies should consider implementing collective interviewing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Psychologica
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020


  • Alibi witness
  • Collective interviewing
  • Consistency
  • Lie detection
  • Verifiability approach
  • 2020

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