Interpersonal Deception Theory
By Adriana Johnson
What is it?
A theory of deception between two
communicators where predictions are made
based on characteristics of the source, receiver,
context, message,feedback, and channel (Avtgis,
Infante, & Rancer, 2009).
Message & Context
What is it?
Deception, theorized by IDT, is no different from any
other form of communication.
Even if the person is truthful or deceitful, the universal
goals of effectiveness and
still being followed
(Avtgis et. al.,2009).
What is it?
To be an effective deceiver, one must handle a
large amount of information in an efficient
Therefore, the receiver is active and corresponds
to the deceptive encounter.
Who uses it?
Psychologists, Communication researchers, and
Sociologists use IDT in their scientific inquiries,
empirical studies, experiments, and meta analyses. Also,
Theorist who believe messages “do things” to people
use IDT. Two leading men that have added on to IDT
are Buller and Burgoon (DePaulo, Malone, Lindsay,
Muhlenbruck, Charlton,& Cooper,2003).
Who uses it?
Buller and Burgoon developed twenty-one
propositions for the theory (Avtgis et. al., 2009).
Proposition seven states that
deceiving for self-gain prompts
more strategic activity and
nonstrategic behavior than
deceiving for the benefit of
others. This proposition can be
identified in the Madoff ponzi
It's one of the most
comprehensive and developed
theories that deals with
IDT theorists expect that with
new technology, social
networking sites will extend
the present propositions to
account for the increasing
media choices for interacting.
Not only is this theory
useful for theorists but
also detectives trying to
find online sexual
individuals, and also
helps identify deceitful
messages on a daily
basis (Lina, Burgoon,
Since its beginning, the theory has continued to grow alongside new
deception processes. Several theorists applaud Buller and Burgoon on
their addition to the theory.
Their 21 propositions
provide a comprehensive
description of a timeline of
deceptive interactions. But the
problem with these
propositions is the lack of
predictive power necessary for
qualifying as a centralized
According to Baxter and Braithwaite (2008),
some of the propositions are generic and intend
to emphasize variables that explain deception but
They also believe that IDT is not completely
substantive and only tackles the difficult issue
of whether deceivers adapt their behavior.
What Else You Should Know
Next time you feel like you are being
deceived, examine the accused person of
deception's nonverbal expression. They may
exhibit something called leakage which is
,according to IDT, a manifestation most
overtly seen in nonverbal signals which
betrays verbal communication. If their
nonverbal expressions contradict their verbal
message, deception may be occurring.
Avtgis, T., Infante, D., & Rancer, A. (2009). Contemporary
communication theory. (pp. 241-246). Dubuque:
Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
Baxter, L., & Braithwaite, D. (2008). Engaging theories in
interpersonal communication. Thousand Oaks,
California: Sage Publications.
DePaulo, B., Malone, B., Lindsay, J., Muhlenbruck, L.,
Charlton, K., & Cooper, H. (2003). Cues to
deception. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 74-
118. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.1.74
Lina, Z., Burgoon, J., Dongsong, Z., & Nunamaker, J.
(2004). Language dominance in interpersonal
deception in computer-mediated communication.
Computers In Human Behavior, 20, 381-402. doi:
Quickmeme. (n.d.). Retrieved from