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Can we detect deception using emoticons on What’s App?


Can we detect deception using emoticons on What’s App?

Ample research focused on differences in behaviours of deceivers and truth tellers (e.g.,  DePaulo et al., 2003). For instance, liars move less with their arms and legs, talk less elaborately and with fewer details, and show a different intensity in the used emotional expressions. Most of this research on deception cues is based on face-to-face interactions. As computer-mediated-communication is now a very important way of communicating in our daily lives, we need to extend the research investigating deception cues, for instance to What’s App conversations. In this project you will investigate whether deceivers and truth tellers differ in the frequency and type of emoticons used in a What’s App conversation. Also, you will investigate whether the length and valence of a deceptive or truthful text message differs. 

Type of research


You will ask participants to send in the most recent What’s App conversation, one in which they told the truth and one in which they lied. You will code the frequency and type of emoticons used in these truthful and deceptive messages. As the content of the lie/truth will influence the type of emoticons used, you will also code the content of the lie/truth using software that is able to do so. 


Are you interested in this topic for your thesis? Please contact the bachelor thesis coordinator Jan Gutteling (


DePaulo, B. M., Lindsay, J. J., Malone, B. E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K., & Cooper, H. (2003). Cues to deception. Psychological bulletin129, 74.

Walther, M., Stel, M., Vries, P.W., Petrov, P., Smith, R., & Young, D. (2018). Can emoticons detect deception? The use of emoticons in (non)deceptive messages on WhatsApp. Manuscript under review (this article can be requested by emailing: