Behavioral cues associated with lies of omission and of commission: An experimental investigation

Brianna Ratliff


Deception is a universal communication behavior across and within species. In humans, the purpose of verbal deception, or lying, is to intentionally mislead, and this behavior can be intuitively broken down into two unique categories based on the method used to mask the truth: omission and commission. Lies of omission involve the intentional exclusion of important information, whereas lies of commission involve the intentional generation of false information. Because these two types of deception involve contrasting methods of delivery, it is possible that lies of omission and lies of commission could result in differing behavioral presentations. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to explore the behavioral patterns exhibited during lies of omission and lies of commission. Behavioral cues were observed in 126 men and women during truthful and deceptive communications. Response time, response latency, speech errors, adaptor use and pausing were found to distinguish the truthful and deceptive conditions; however, no significant differences were found between the omission and commission conditions. Implications are discussed.