Linguistic correlates of self in deceptive oral autobiographical narratives
The current study collected orally-delivered autobiographical narratives from a sample of 44 undergraduate students. Participants were asked to produce both deceptive and non-deceptive versions of their narrative to two specific autobiographical question prompts while standing in front of a video camera. Narratives were then analyzed with Coh-Metrix software on 33 indices of linguistic cohesion. Following a Bonferroni correction for the large number of linguistic variables (p < .002), results indicated that the deceptive narratives contained more explicit action verbs, less linguistic complexity, and less referential coherence (sentences being cohesive with each other). The results support a theory that, in deceptive narratives, there is greater narrative distance between the self that narrates and the self that is narrated about. This suggests that narrative selves are constituted not as autonomous selves, but are subject to processes (e.g., psychological, linguistic, social) that are likely operating on a subconscious level.