"Um, i can tell you're lying": Linguistic markers of deception versus truth-telling in speech

Joanne Arciuli, David Mallard, Gina Villar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)


    Lying is a deliberate attempt to transmit messages that mislead others. Analysis of language behaviors holds great promise as an objective method of detecting deception. The current study reports on the frequency of use and acoustic nature of um and like during laboratory-elicited lying versus truth-telling. Results obtained using a within-participants false opinion paradigm showed that instances of um occur less frequently and are of shorter duration during lying compared to truth-telling. There were no significant differences in relation to like. These findings contribute to our understanding of the linguistic markers of deception behavior. They also assist in our understanding of the role of um in communication more generally. Our results suggest that um may not be accurately conceptualized as a filled pause/hesitation or speech disfluency/error whose increased usage coincides with increased cognitive load or increased arousal during lying. It may instead carry a lexical status similar to interjections and form an important part of authentic, effortless communication, which is somewhat lacking during lying.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)397-411
    Number of pages15
    JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


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