AAAI Publications, Twenty-Fifth International FLAIRS Conference

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The Devil Is in the Details: New Directions in Deception Analysis
Philip Michael McCarthy, Nicholas D. Duran, Lucille M. Booker

Last modified: 2012-05-16


In this study, we use the computational textual analysis tool, the Gramulator, to identify and examine the distinctive linguistic features of deceptive and truthful discourse. The theme of the study is abortion rights and the deceptive texts are derived from a Devil’s Advocate approach, conducted to suppress personal beliefs and values. Our study takes the form of a contrastive corpus analysis, and produces systematic differences between truthful and deceptive personal accounts. Results suggest that deceivers employ a distancing strategy that is often associated with deceptive linguistic behavior. Ultimately, these deceivers struggle to adopt a truth perspective. Perhaps of most importance, our results indicate issues of concern with current deception detection theory and methodology. From a theoretical standpoint, our results question whether deceivers are deceiving at all or whether they are merely poorly expressing a rhetorical position, caused by being forced to speculate on a perceived proto-typical position. From a methodological standpoint, our results cause us to question the validity of deception corpora. Consequently, we propose new rigorous standards so as to better understand the subject matter of the deception field. Finally, we question the prevailing approach of abstract data measurement and call for future assessment to consider contextual lexical features. We conclude by suggesting a prudent approach to future research for fear that our eagerness to analyze and theorize may cause us to misidentify deception. After-all, successful deception, which is the kind we seek to detect, is likely to be an elusive and fickle prey.


deception; gramulator; corpus

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