Efficacy of forensic statement analysis in distinguishing truthful from deceptive eyewitness accounts of highly stressful events

J Forensic Sci. 2011 Sep;56(5):1227-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.01896.x. Epub 2011 Aug 19.


Laboratory-based detecting deception research suggests that truthful statements differ from those of deceptive statements. This nonlaboratory study tested whether forensic statement analysis (FSA) methods would distinguish genuine from false eyewitness accounts about exposure to a highly stressful event. A total of 35 military participants were assigned to truthful or deceptive eyewitness conditions. Genuine eyewitness reported truthfully about exposure to interrogation stress. Deceptive eyewitnesses studied transcripts of genuine eyewitnesses for 24 h and falsely claimed they had been interrogated. Cognitive Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and assessed by FSA raters blind to the status of participants. Genuine accounts contained more unique words, external and contextual referents, and a greater total word count than did deceptive statements. The type-token ratio was lower in genuine statements. The classification accuracy using FSA techniques was 82%. FSA methods may be effective in real-world circumstances and have relevance to professionals in law enforcement, security, and criminal justice.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Deception*
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Lie Detection*
  • Linguistics
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Military Personnel
  • ROC Curve
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Writing*