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Since truth-telling is considered preferable to telling lies1, most people are not well-practiced liars and as such will need to work hard to control the undesirable feelings associated with deceiving another. In their strained attempt to look credible, they cannot help but reveal cues that reflect their deceptive behavior, commonly referred to in IDT literature as “leakage”.2 The term leakage refers to the unintentional outward display of the psychological processes experienced by the deceiver while telling the lie.3

A key principle of IDT is that deceptive performances are comprised of both non-strategic (unintentional “leakage”) displays and strategic (deliberate) displays categorized into three management classes as follows: information, behavior, and image.4  Information management deals with regulating the amount of information conveyed by the deceiver. 5 Behavior management addresses the deceiver’s attempt to control his or her nonverbal behaviors to minimize suspicion.6 Lastly, image management refers to the efforts of the deceiver to continually project a “positive face.”7 Although it’s expected that deceivers will try not to let these strategies show, overdoing it by trying too hard will likely backfire, causing the deceiver to look overly restrained, uninvolved and unnatural.8 

1 Bok, Supra note 13.

2 Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1969). Nonverbal leakage and clues to deception. Psychiatry, 32, 88 – 105.

3 Zuckerman, M., DePaulo, B. M., & Rosenthal, R. (1981). Verbal and nonverbal communication of deception. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 14, pp 1 – 59). New York: Academic Press.

4 Burboon, J. K., Buller, D. B., Guerrero, L. K., Afifi, W. A. & Feldman, C. M. (1996). Interpersonal Deception: XII. Information management dimensions underlying deceptive and truthful messages. Communication Monographs, 63, 50 – 69.

5 Buller, Supra note 16.

6 Id.

7 Id.

8 Buller, D. B., Burgoon, J. K., White, C. H., & Ebesu, A. S. (1994). Interpersonal Deception: VII. Behavioral profiles of falsification, equivocation and concealment. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 13(4), 366 – 395.


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June 2006