Self-initiated versus instructed cheating in the physiological Concealed Information Test

Linda Marjoleine Geven, Nathalie klein Selle, Gershon Ben-Shakhar, Merel Kindt, Bruno Verschuere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The validity of the Concealed Information Test (CIT) to detect recognition of critical details has been demonstrated in hundreds of laboratory studies. These studies, however, lack the factor of deliberate intent to deceive. This disparity between research and practice may affect the generalizability of laboratory based CIT findings. In the current study, 65 out of 174 participants cheated on their own initiative in a trivia quiz. These self-initiated cheaters were compared to 68 participants who were explicitly requested to cheat. Skin conductance, heart rate, and respiration were found to detect concealed information related to cheating. No significant differences emerged between self-initiated and instructed cheaters, supported by Bayesian statistics showing substantial evidence for the null hypothesis. The data demonstrate that the validity of the CIT is not restricted to instructed deception. This finding is encouraging from an ecological validity perspective and may pave the way for further field implementation of memory detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-155
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cheating
  • Concealed Information Test (CIT)
  • Deception
  • Dishonesty
  • External validity
  • Memory detection


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