Algorithms for detecting concealed knowledge among groups when the critical information is unavailable

Assaf Breska, Gershon Ben-Shakhar, Nurit Gronau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined whether the Concealed Information Test (CIT) may be used when the critical details are unavailable to investigators (the Searching CIT [SCIT]). This use may have important applications in criminal investigations (e.g., finding the location of a murder weapon) and in security-related threats (e.g., detecting individuals and groups suspected in planning a terror attack). Two classes of algorithms designed to detect the critical items and classify individuals in the SCIT were examined. The 1st class was based on averaging responses across subjects to identify critical items and on averaging responses across the identified critical items to identify knowledgeable subjects. The 2nd class used clustering methods based on the correlations between the response profiles of all subject pairs. We applied a principal component analysis to decompose the correlation matrix into its principal components and defined the detection score as the coefficient of each subject on the component that explained the largest portion of the variance. Reanalysis of 3 data sets from previous CIT studies demonstrated that in most cases the efficiency of differentiation between knowledgeable and unknowledgeable subjects in the SCIT (indexed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve) approached that of the standard CIT for both algorithms. We also examined the robustness of our results to variations in the number of knowledgeable and unknowledgeable subjects in the sample. This analysis demonstrated that the performance of our algorithms is relatively robust to changes in the number of individuals examined in each group, provided that at least 2 (but desirably 5 or more) knowledgeable examinees are included.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-300
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Concealed Information Test (CIT)
  • Group-level analysis
  • Psychophysiological detection
  • Searching CIT


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