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Can the eyes of a suspect reveal that they are guilty of a crime?


Can the eyes of a suspect reveal whether they are guilty of a crime?

In general, the ability of people as lie-detectors is weak. Even police officers have failed to detect deception better than chance. The forensic field has therefore started to actively look for other, more objective indicators of deception, most notably the use of physiological response measurements. One promising new method includes eye tracking technology. A study by Derrick, Moffitt and Nunamaker (2011) suggests that eye tracking technology can be used to detect the presence of guilty knowledge in a Guilty Knowledge Test (GKT). The purpose of a GKT, also referred to as Concealed Information Test (CIT), is to discriminate between guilty and innocent participants by measuring physiological responses. By examining eye fixations, it was found that participants who possess guilty knowledge due to committing a crime can be differentiated from participants without guilty knowledge (Peth, Kim, & Gamer, 2013). In order to verify the reliability of this new method for the forensic practice, more research is necessary.

In this project, you will examine whether it is possible to discriminate between guilty and innocent participants based on their eye movement behaviour. You will look into eye tracking technology as potential technique for conducting a new version of a “lie-detector”, such as the GKT and the CIT. Most likely, you will conduct an experiment in which guilty knowledge is manipulated (i.e. involvement in a certain crime such as a robbery, shooting, or terrorist attack is created). Next to this, you will become familiar with using new technology such as the Tobii Pro Glasses 2.


Experimental design. In this research, it is important that you are interested in working with new technology, specifically eye tracking technology.


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


Derrick, D. C., Moffitt, K., & Nunamaker Jr, J. F. (2011). Eye gaze behavior as a guilty knowledge test: Initial exploration for use in automated, kiosk-based screening. In Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 4-7.


Peth, J., Kim, J. S., & Gamer, M. (2013). Fixations and eye-blinks allow for detecting concealed crime related memories. International Journal of Psychophysiology88(1), 96-103.


Millen, A. E., Hope, L., Hillstrom, A. P., & Vrij, A. (2017). Tracking the truth: the effect of face familiarity on eye fixations during deception. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(5), 930-943.


Semester 2, 2018-2019