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Untangling a Web of Lies: Exploring Automated Detection of Deception in Computer-Mediated Communication

Journal of Management Information Systems, 33(2), 511-541

41 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2015 Last revised: 7 Oct 2016

Stephan Ludwig

Westminster Business School

Tom van Laer

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Ko de Ruyter

Maastricht University - Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management

Mike Friedman

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Department of Marketing

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Safeguarding organizations against opportunism and severe deception in computer-mediated communication (CMC) presents a major challenge to CIOs and IT managers. New insights into linguistic cues of deception derive from the speech acts innate to CMC. Applying automated text analysis to archival email exchanges in a CMC system as part of a channel incentive program, we assess the ability of word use (micro-level), message development (macro-level), and intertextual exchange cues (meta-level) to detect severe deception by business partners. We empirically assess the predictive ability of our framework using an ordinal multilevel regression model. Results indicate that deceivers minimize the use of referencing and self-deprecation but include more superfluous descriptions and flattery. Deceitful channel partners also over structure their arguments and rapidly mimic the linguistic style of the account manager across dyadic e-mail exchanges. Thanks to its diagnostic value, the proposed framework can support firms’ decision-making and guide compliance monitoring system development.

Notes: ; approved rev-karen 1/1/16

Keywords: CMC between business partners, Deception severity, Speech act theory, Automated text analysis

JEL Classification: L86, M31

Suggested Citation

Ludwig, Stephan and van Laer, Tom and Ruyter, Ko de and Friedman, Mike, Untangling a Web of Lies: Exploring Automated Detection of Deception in Computer-Mediated Communication (2016). Journal of Management Information Systems, 33(2), 511-541. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2576197 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2576197

Stephan Ludwig

Westminster Business School ( email )

35 Marylebone Road
London NW1 5LS
United Kingdom

Tom Van Laer (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Ko de Ruyter

Maastricht University - Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management ( email )

Endepolsdomein 150
Maastricht, Limburg 6201 BE
Netherlands

Mike Friedman

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Belgium

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