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The Cognitive Load of Narrative Lies


Bird, L and Gretton, M and Cockerell, R and Heathcote, A, The Cognitive Load of Narrative Lies, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 33, (5) pp. 936-942. ISSN 0888-4080 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Bird, L, Gretton, M, Cockerell, R, Heathcote, A. The cognitive load of narrative lies. Appl Cognit Psychol. 2019; 33: 936 942., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

DOI: doi:10.1002/acp.3567


Lying is assumed to increase cognitive load, and it has been shown to slow response times to simple questions. We employed a dual‐task methodology, the detection response task (DRT), to assess cognitive load in telling narrative lies in a live, open‐question interview. The DRT requires participants to press a button in response to a tactile stimulus every 35 s while performing a primary task, in this case, recounting either truthful or deceitful narratives. We found weak support for slowing in the time to initiate a narrative response when lying. In contrast, we found strong support for an increase in cognitive load when producing a narrative lie, as measured by both slowed DRT responses and increased response omissions, although this effect decreased with time on task. We advocate dual‐task methodologies such as the DRT for increasing understanding of the assumptions made by theories of deception and for refining lie detection techniques.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:deception, cognitive load, detection response task
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Gretton, M (Mr Matthew Gretton)
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:134877
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2019-09-11
Last Modified:2020-03-11
Downloads:9 View Download Statistics

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