We tested the accuracy of thermal imaging as a lie detection tool in airport screening. Fifty-one passengers in an international airport departure hall told the truth or lied about their forthcoming trip in an interview. Their skin temperature was recorded via a thermal imaging camera.
Liars’ skin temperature rose significantly during the interview, whereas truth tellers’ skin temperature remained constant. On the basis of these different patterns, 64% of truth tellers and 69% of liars were classified correctly. The
interviewers made veracity judgements independently from the thermal recordings. The interviewers outperformed the thermal recordings and classified 72% of truth tellers and 77% of liars correctly. Accuracy rates based on the combination of thermal imaging scores and interviewers’ judgements were the same as accuracy rates based on interviewers’ judgements alone. Implications of the findings for the suitability of thermal imaging as a lie detection tool in airports are discussed.