Volume 23, Issue 2 p. 192-213
Original Article

Cross-cultural verbal deception

Sharon Leal

Corresponding Author

Sharon Leal

Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Sharon Leal, Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, King Henry Building, King Henry 1 Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2DY Hants, UK (email: [email protected]).Search for more papers by this author
Aldert Vrij

Aldert Vrij

Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK

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Zarah Vernham

Zarah Vernham

Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK

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Gary Dalton

Gary Dalton

Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK

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Louise Jupe

Louise Jupe

Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK

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Adam Harvey

Adam Harvey

Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK

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Galit Nahari

Galit Nahari

Department of Criminology, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel

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First published: 29 June 2018
Citations: 39

Abstract

Background

‘Interviewing to detect deception’ research is sparse across different Ethnic Groups. In the present experiment, we interviewed truth tellers and liars from British, Chinese, and Arab origins. British interviewees belong to a low-context culture (using a communication style that relies heavily on explicit and direct language), whereas Chinese and Arab interviewees belong to high-context cultures (communicate in ways that are implicit and rely heavily on context).

Method

Interviewees were interviewed in pairs and 153 pairs took part. Truthful pairs discussed an actual visit to a nearby restaurant, whereas deceptive pairs pretended to have visited a nearby restaurant. Seventeen verbal cues were examined.

Results

Cultural cues (differences between cultures) were more prominent than cues to deceit (differences between truth tellers and liars). In particular, the British interviewees differed from their Chinese and Arab counterparts and the differences reflected low- and high-context culture communication styles.

Conclusion

Cultural cues could quickly lead to cross-cultural verbal communication errors: the incorrect interpretation of a cultural difference as a cue to deceit.