The Use of Gesture During Truthful and Fabricated Accounts of a Self-Experience

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Kogi, Shinichi
Hughes, Joel
Netcott, Steven
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Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.

Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.

The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.


The goal of this research was to identify nonverbal behaviors (eg, gesture use) that may be correlated with recounted (truthful) and invented accounts (lying) of a self-experience. Deception theories suggest that as cognitive load increases our behavior is impacted (DePaulo et al., 2003; Zuckerman, DePaulo, & Rosenthal, 1981). Current research on recounted and invented accounts have primarily relied on Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) (eg, Vrij & Mann, 2006) to examine verbal responses. To date there is little research investigating the role of nonverbal communication during recounted and invented accounts. We randomly assigned 40 participants to a truth telling or lying condition. In the truth telling condition participants were asked to complete a sorting and stacking task, similar to a common child’s game. In the deception condition participants were merely giving instructions for completing the task and instructed to not actually perform the task. Regardless of the condition, all participants were instructed to convince our interviewer that they did in fact perform the task. We hypothesized that liars would use fewer gestures than truth tellers and that liars would also use gestures that were smaller in size. Data will be analyzed using independent t-tests. This research has implications for false confessions.