Queen's University

The psychology and language of fraud

2012-03-12

Two Queen’s University professors can talk about fraud-related issues in In honour of Fraud Prevention Month (which takes place in March).

The psychology of fraud – is guilt in the eye of the beholder?

Are you guilty if you don’t feel that way? Dr. Pam Murphy, an expert on the social and psychological aspects of fraud at Queen’s School of Business says that while people may feel guilt from intentionally misreporting or committing fraud, they may erase their guilt through various methods of rationalization to justify their fraudulent actions.

Dr. Murphy can talk about the following: How and why offenders rationalize fraud; how to identify people who are more likely to commit fraud; how even ethical people can commit fraud; the types of environments that breed fraudulent behavior; and what organizations can do to limit fraud.

The language of fraud – can the use of certain words indicate guilt, lies, and deception?

How often do investors and analysts skip MD&A (Management's Discussion and Analysis) summaries to get to the numbers? If you’re a believer that ‘numbers don’t lie’, note that it might be cushioned by a bunch of words that do. Lynnette Purda, an Associate Professor & RBC Fellow of Finance at Queen’s School of Business and David Skillicorn Professor at Queen’s School of Computing, recently developed a method for classifying financial reports as fraudulent or truthful, based on the type of language used in the MD&A section.

Dr. Purda can talk about the following: the type of language that can indicate fraud; how financial reports can be classified into fraudulent versus truthful; why the verbal content of financial reports can be more informative than the numbers; phrases or words investors should look out for when reviewing MD&As.

To arrange an interview, please contact communication officers Michael Onesi (office: 613.533.6000 ext. 77513, cell:613-329-9104, michael.onesi@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (office:613-533-2877, cell:613-484-3979, Anne.Craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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