Interpersonal Communication

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What are the key components of the deception concept? 

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To try to answer your question with as much accuracy as possible, let us assume that the "deception theory" that you may be referring to is Buller and Burgoon's (1996) Interpersonal Deception theory (IDT). Parting from this premise, let us explain that the IDT is treated as an extension of of interpersonal communication. It studies deception as a form of self-preservation practice (scapegoat) that is done both verbally, and non verbally. The theory contends that deception comes in five different forms, and they are all used during communication to convey false information. 

a) a lie - false information

b) equivocation- contradictory statements

c) exaggeration- embellishing information

d) understatement - down-playing facts

e) concealment- hiding or leaving out facts.

This kind of false and malicious information is provided in one of three environments. 

a) a dyadic environment, where two people exchange information.

b) a relational environment, where two people exchange information in different settings, at the same time. 

c) the dialogical environment, where there is information flowing from one side to another, with the aim of reaching a conclusion. This latter is what we see in investigations and during interrogations.  We can even see it during the Socratic dialogue of teachers and students, or during an interview between a therapist and a client. 

The interpersonal deception theory contends that there are more than 18 different instances where a person who wants to deceit can actually attempt it. They refer to specific situational instances that enable someone to try and deceit to cause a loss of focus. However, the actual deception theory is intrinsically connected with the interpersonal deception theory. Therefore, the elements of it are basically broken down into what constitutes a deception, and in what instances the deception is most likely to occur. 

In modern forensic psychology scenarios the IDT is the basis of the many TV shows about criminal profiling that we see today. This is because the IDT explains five ways in which we can detect deception in  people. These are studied from the point of view of how us, as primitives, were able to instill in others fear, warning, compassion, or anger, without formal speech. Hence, deception can be detected in these non-verbal scenarios:

  • face-  a change in the musculature of the face such as wrinkling, clenching, or looking seemingly stressed, or detached. 
  • body- trying to touch, or asking not to be touched, keeping or breaking close proximity boundaries. 
  • gaze- the way in which the person moves and uses the eyes to convey a message
  • gesture- a sudden change in the primary expression

Therefore, all these serve as basic tenets to determine the possibility and plausibility of deceit in modern communication.

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