Deception studies

Part of the research area of risk and safety is the study of deception. Deception forms a key part of not just daily life, but also academic research. How do people experience deception and how do they respond to it? How does one deceive various parts of the human senses? These questions are answered using a wide array of measures, varying from virtual reality simulations, to physiological measures such as measurements of heart rate and skin conductance, to observational measures like eye-tracking.

VR goggle from the HTC Vive

Virtual Reality (VR) and simulations

Virtual reality allows for the creation of highly immersive simulations, in which the participants often forget that they are partaking in a study. This allows for the observation of more genuine behavior in a highly flexible setting without risking the safety of the participant. Risk and safety researchers therefore often use VR and may supplement it with questionnaires or physiological measurements.

Physiological measurements

Physiological measurements are a very powerful tool for social scientists. They allow for both the replacement and supplementation of the more traditional questionnaires by more other measurements, for example of excitement, heart-rate, stress and emotional state. Within the BMS lab, the shimmer skin conductance sensors and E4 Empatica watches are often used for this purpose. The latter is also usable as a fitness and movement tracker. Physiological measurements can aid in explaining observations and the classical self-reported measurements by providing an objective measurement to which they can be compared and related. A video or application that is reported to cause stress can be further analyzed by identifying where a participant’s heart-rate rises or their skin conductance increases.


The BMS lab has several forms of eye-tracking available. They do as the name suggests and track eye movement, gaze and stare. This means researchers can accurately follow reading and viewing patterns and answer questions related to visual stimuli. Both a version of the Tobii eye-tracker exists that can be easily attached to any screen (combine this with a screen capture device) or one that can be worn as a set of glasses. The latter allows for a wider use and even without the need of a screen, but is as a result more complex to analyze.