T-pattern analysis and cognitive load manipulation to detect low-stake lies: an exploratory study

Cesare Massimo Cavalera, Barbara Diana, Valentino Zurloni, Massimiliano Elia, Olivia Realdon, Gudberg K. Jonsson, M. Teresa Anguera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Deception has evolved to become a fundamental aspect of human interaction. Despite the prolonged efforts in many disciplines, there has been no definite finding of a univocally “deceptive” signal. This work proposes an approach to deception detection combining cognitive load manipulation and T-pattern methodology with the objective of: (a) testing the efficacy of dual task-procedure in enhancing differences between truth tellers and liars in a low-stakes situation; (b) exploring the efficacy of T-pattern methodology in discriminating truthful reports from deceitful ones in a low-stakes situation; (c) setting the experimental design and procedure for following research. We manipulated cognitive load to enhance differences between truth tellers and liars, because of the low-stakes lies involved in our experiment. We conducted an experimental study with a convenience sample of 40 students. We carried out a first analysis on the behaviors’ frequencies coded through the observation software, using SPSS (22). The aim was to describe shape and characteristics of behavior’s distributions and explore differences between groups. Datasets were then analyzed with Theme 6.0 software which detects repeated patterns (T-patterns) of coded events (non-verbal behaviors) that regularly or irregularly occur within a period of observation. A descriptive analysis on T-pattern frequencies was carried out to explore differences between groups. An in-depth analysis on more complex patterns was performed to get qualitative information on the behavior structure expressed by the participants. Results show that the dual-task procedure enhances differences observed between liars and truth tellers with T-pattern methodology; moreover, T-pattern detection reveals a higher variety and complexity of behavior in truth tellers than in liars. These findings support the combination of cognitive load manipulation and T-pattern methodology for deception detection in low-stakes situations, suggesting the testing of directional hypothesis on a larger probabilistic sample of population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-257
Number of pages1
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • deception detection, cognitive load manipulation, kinesics, analysis of observational data, T-patterns


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