Psychophysiology. 2022 Jul 22:e14155. doi: 10.1111/psyp.14155. Online ahead of print.
The concealed information test (CIT) relies on bodily reactions to stimuli that are hidden in mind. However, people can use countermeasures, such as purposely focusing on irrelevant things, to confound the CIT. A new method designed to prevent countermeasures uses rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) to present stimuli on the fringe of awareness. Previous studies that used RSVP in combination with electroencephalography (EEG) showed that participants exhibit a clear reaction to their real first name, even when they try to prevent such a reaction (i.e., when their name is concealed information). Because EEG is not easily applicable outside the laboratory, we investigated here whether pupil size, which is easier to measure, can also be used to detect concealed identity information. In our first study, participants adopted a fake name, and searched for this name in an RSVP task, while their pupil sizes were recorded. Apart from this fake name, their real name and a control name also appeared in the task. We found pupil dilation in response to the task-irrelevant real name, as compared to control names. However, while most participants showed this effect qualitatively, it was not statistically significant for most participants individually. In a second study, we preregistered the proof-of-concept methodology and replicated the original findings. Taken together, our results show that the current RSVP task with pupillometry can detect concealed identity information at a group level. Further development of the method is needed to create a valid and reliable concealed identity information detector at the individual level.