Testing interpersonal deception theory: Effects of suspicion on communication behaviors and perceptions

Judee K. Burgoon, David B. Buller, Amy S. Ebesu, Cindy H. White, Patricia A. Rockwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


One major thrust of interpersonal deception theory (IDT) is elevating receivers of deception to a central role and acknowledging the important influence that their suspicion has on their own and senders' behaviors. The current investigation considers: (a) what sender behaviors are associated with receiver suspicion, (b) how suspicion is displayed overtly by receivers, (c) whether senders recognize suspicion when present, and (d) how suspicion influences sender behavior. Results are reported from an experiment in which interviewees gave varying forms of deceptive answers to interviewers who were or were not induced to be suspicious. Results confirmed that several sender behaviors were associated with receiver suspicion, that receiver suspicion was manifested nonverbally, that deceivers interacting with novice receivers sensed the suspicion, and suspicion altered sender nonverbal displays. However, suspicion often interacted with other communicator factors and deception type to produce complex behavioral patterns. Sender and receiver communication style also were highly correlated, regardless of suspicion level, indicating likely mutual influence. Results underscore the importance of taking communicative features into account and the unlikely prospects of uncovering a generic receiver suspicion display or a suspicion-induced deceiver display that is invariant across relationships and communication contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-267
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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