Interpersonal deception: XII. Information management dimensions underlying deceptive and truthful messages

Judee K. Burgoon, David B. Buller, Laura K. Guerrero, Walid A. Afifi, Clyde M. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Interpersonal Deception Theory (IDT) proposes that among the strategies deceivers use to create credible messages is information management. Delineated here are five fundamental dimensions along which verbal content and style can be altered to manage information: (1) completeness (informational and conversational), (2) veridicality (actual and apparent), (3) directness/relevance (semantic and syntactic/pragmatic), (4) clarity (semantic and syntactic/pragmatic), and (5) personalization. Two studies employing encoding and decoding methodologies are presented that assess the degree to which (1) senders can vary discourse on demand along these dimensions and (2) receivers (observers) can recognise such variations. Participants in the first experiment engaged in separate truthful and deceptive interviews; during the latter, they enacted one of three different forms of deception (falsification, equivocation, concealment) representing different combinations of the five dimensions. Participants in the second experiment gave truthful and deceptive answers during a single interview and again enacted different deception forms. Participants and observers then rated interviewee responses on the five dimensions. Results from both studies confirmed that deceptive communication is less complete, honest (veridical), direct/relevant, clear, and personalized (attributable to the speaker) than truthful communication. Falsifications were the least truthful but seen as most complete. Equivocations were the least clear and direct/relevant and seen as such. They were also seen as the most personalized. Findings are discussed in light of IDT, McCornack's Information Manipulation Theory, and Jacobs, Dawson, and Brashers' replication of McCornack's work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-69
Number of pages20
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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