Linguistic styles in deceptive communication: dubitative ambiguity and alliptic eluding in packaged lies

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18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the topic of communicative styles of deception. University students were asked to describe a picture with varying truth/lie conditions. In accordance with their perception or being deliberately against it, the participant could; tell the truth (T); lie to an acquiescent recipient (L1); lie to a suspicious recipient (L2). The goal was to investigate whether or not different linguistic styles could be correlated to the cognitive complexity of the task as regards the truth bias or lie bias of the recipient. Specifically, two sets of linguistic aspects-micro and macro structural-were analyzed. In the former, indices were considered as words (arguments number, repetitions and interruptions, fluency and fluency disorder indices), predicates (number, nominal/predicative construction and personal/impersonal structure), pronouns and adverbial forms. In the latter, the structural variations of the standard phrase, utterances' complexity, spatial organization of utterances and speech organization were analyzed. Results showed that participants used speech to shield from reality and chose different strategies; in the L1 condition, participants resorted to ambiguity and prolixity ("cuttlefish effect"); on the contrary, in the L2 condition they used concise assertiveness and elliptic eluding strategies ("chameleon effect").
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-710
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Behavior and Personality
Publication statusPublished - 2003




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