Countermeasures to deception and ironic effects: How much control do we have?
Hurley, Carolyn M.
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The present study examines the ability of liars and truth-tellers to monitor behavioral cues as related to ironic process theory (Wegner, 1994). Ironic process theory posits that when a mental effort is made to control a desired outcome or behavior, the monitoring process overwhelms the individual and causes the person to go against his or her original intention. This monitoring process is ironic because it contradicts the intention of the individual (Wenzlaff & Wegner, 2000). In this study sixty students participated in a mock crime experiment in which they were assigned to either take (and lie) or not take (and tell the truth) an item and then enter an interview about the theft of that item. Some participants were also instructed to monitor one of two facial actions during an interview and some participants were provided with no behavioral instructions. During the interviews participants were videotaped and their facial actions were scored using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS: Ekman & Friesen, 1978). Results indicate that participants have some success at controlling the intensity of expression, but did not differ from the control groups in the frequency of expression. Implications for national security and future research are discussed.