Vocal Stress and Deception Detection Among Chinese

Dan O’Hair, Michael J. Cody, Xiao Tian Wang, Edward Yi Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Chinese immigrants to the U.S. were randomly assigned to deception or truth telling conditions in a simulated job interview. Vocal stress indices were studied for three types of questions: descriptive (requiring brief response), narrative (requiring elaboration), and emotionally-eliciting (requiring the interviewee to disclose emotions). Both male and female Chinese interviewees displayed significantly higher levels of vocal stress when revealing negative emotions about personal matters than when communicating descriptive or narrative answers. Male Chinese also displayed higher levels of vocal stress for a prepared lie than when communicating other descriptive answers. Vocal stress was not associated with deception among females, in contrast to the results of an earlier study. Further, male truth tellers were found to display elevated levels of vocal stress when disclosing personal information. The validity of the vocal stress index as a measure of stress and discomfort appears limited to prepared lies and responses which require an emotional response. Further investigations should carefully consider the use of vocal stress analysis for other purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-169
Number of pages12
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1990


  • Chinese
  • Deception
  • emotional responses
  • liars
  • physiological arousal
  • vocal stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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