Which Spoken Language Markers Identify Deception in High-Stakes Settings? Evidence From Earnings Conference Calls

Judee K Burgoon, William J. Mayew, Justin Scott Giboney, Aaron C. Elkins, Kevin Moffitt, Bradley Dorn, Michael Byrd, Lee Spitzley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Quarterly conference calls where corporate executives discuss earnings that are later found to be misreported offer an excellent test bed for determining if automated linguistic and vocalic analysis tools can identify potentially fraudulent utterances in prepared versus unscripted remarks. Earnings conference calls from one company that restated their financial reports and were accused of making misleading statements were annotated as restatement-relevant (or not) and as prepared (presentation) or unprepared (Q&A) responses. We submitted more than 1,000 utterances to automated analysis to identify distinct linguistic and vocalic features that characterize various types of utterances. Restatement-related utterances differed significantly on many vocal and linguistic dimensions. These results support the value of language and vocal features in identifying potentially fraudulent utterances and suggest important interplay between utterances that are unscripted responses rather than rehearsed statements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-157
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016



  • deception
  • earnings calls
  • fraud
  • language
  • linguistic analysis
  • preparation
  • vocalics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Language and Linguistics

Cite this