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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00636

Evaluative observation in a Concealed Information Test

 Wolfgang Ambach1*, Birthe Assmann2, Blanda Wielandt1 and Dieter Vaitl1
  • 1Clinical and Physiological Psychology, Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health (IGPP), Germany
  • 2Niedersächsisches Institut für frühkindliche Bildung und Entwicklung, Germany

The Concealed Information Test (CIT) is a valid method to detect hidden knowledge by means of psychophysiological measures. Concealing information is always a social behavior; yet, the role of social aspects has barely been investigated in recent CIT research favoring standardized, computer-based experiments. Evaluative observation is known to influence social behavior as well as physiological measures; examining the impact of evaluative observation on physiological responding in a CIT is the aim of this study.
Sixty-three students completed a mock-crime and then underwent a CIT. In a between-subjects manipulation, half of the participants were observed through a camera and were faced with the realtime video of the experimenter watching them while completing the CIT. The other half completed the CIT without observation and video. Electrodermal activity, respiration line length, phasic heart rate, and finger pulse waveform length were registered. A specific questionnaire captured the individual fear of negative evaluation.
Typical differential CIT responses occurred in both groups and with each measure. Contrary to expectations, differential CIT responses did not differ between groups. No modulatory influence of the fear questionnaire score on physiological responding was found.
A ceiling effect, involving high attention and high motivation to avoid detection as well as high arousal in both groups due to the CIT procedure per se is discussed as explanation for these results, while the independence of the orienting reflex of social and motivational influence appears less likely in the light of previous literature.

Keywords: Concealed Information Test, deception, mock crime, social stimuli, evaluative observation, Orienting

Received: 25 Oct 2018; Accepted: 06 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Ambach, Assmann, Wielandt and Vaitl. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Wolfgang Ambach, Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health (IGPP), Clinical and Physiological Psychology, Freiburg, 79098, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, ambach@igpp.de