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Helping auditors identify deception through psycholinguistics

Rebecca Nicolaides (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Portsmouth, UK)
Richard Trafford (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Portsmouth, UK)
Russell Craig (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Portsmouth, UK)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 1 October 2018




This paper reviews an array of psycholinguistic techniques that auditors can deploy to explore written and oral language for signs of deception. The review is drawn upon to propose some elements of a forward research agenda.


Relevant literature across several disciplines is identified through keyword searches of major bibliographic databases.


The techniques highlighted have considerable potential for use by auditors to identify audit contexts which merit closer audit investigation. However, the techniques need further contextual empirical investigation in audit contexts. Seven specific propositions are presented for empirical testing.


This paper assembles literature on deceptive communication from a wide range of disciplines and relates it to the audit context. Auditors’ attention is directed to potential linguistic signals of fraud risk, and opportunities for future research are suggested. The paper is consciousness-raising, has pedagogic purpose and suggests critical elements for a future research agenda.



Nicolaides, R., Trafford, R. and Craig, R. (2018), "Helping auditors identify deception through psycholinguistics", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 1062-1076.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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