CAN LANGUAGE BE USEFUL IN DETECTING DECEPTION? THE LINGUISTIC MARKERS OF DECEPTION IN THE JODI ARIAS INTERVIEW

ABSTRACT

Linguistic indicators of deception are often overlooked because it is commonly assumed that liars can control their speech and are therefore unlikely to leak clues which may reveal their deception. However, it is widely believed that language is a primary component of deception, and that deceptive speech is strategically different from that of truthful speech. Furthermore, although deceivers may have leverage in controlling the overall content of the story, they can reveal a great deal about their underlying cognitive state through the language they use. Given that the majority of research in this area has been carried out by psychologists, studying the relationship between language and deception is crucial. This project therefore examines whether language can be a useful tool in detecting deception from a forensic linguistics perspective. The case under investigation is that of Jodi Arias, who murdered her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008. Upon her arrest, Arias appeared in a television interview in which she fabricated a story regarding the murder. Using a Discourse Analysis approach, this research analyses the features of linguistic deception in Arias’s interview. The findings reveal that Arias used a number of strategies to deceive, including linguistic hedges and preference for negative expressions, confirming previous findings into deceptive speech.

Keywords: Deception, Lying, Language, Jodi Arias, Discourse Analysis.

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