A new theoretical perspective on concealed information detection

Nathalie klein Selle, Gershon Ben-Shakhar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The concealed information test (CIT) was designed to detect concealed knowledge. It does so by measuring differential physiological and behavioral responses to concealed, compared to control, items – i.e., the CIT effect. Although the CIT has gained extensive empirical support in laboratory studies, scientific validity requires also a theoretical understanding of the method's underlying mechanisms. In this article, we present a new theoretical perspective. Specifically, we elaborate and clarify several features of Orienting Response (OR) theory, which has been the dominant theory in this domain. Importantly, we suggest for the first time that the voluntary (rather than the involuntary) OR modulates the CIT effect. Second, we argue that motivational-emotional accounts of the CIT effect are consistent with OR theory and cannot be considered as alternative approaches. Finally, we discuss some more recent developments which highlight the idea that different physiological measures reflect different underlying mechanisms – an idea dubbed as response fractionation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14187
Pages (from-to)e14187
Issue number3
Early online date27 Sep 2022
StateE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research.


  • arousal inhibition
  • behavioral responses
  • concealed information test (CIT)
  • orienting response
  • physiological responses
  • response fractionation

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