Detecting the True Nature of Allegations of Rape

André De Zutter*, Robert Horselenberg, Peter J. van Koppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A study was conducted to test whether it is possible to build a model to distinguish true and false allegations of rape based on the theory of fabricated rape. The theory is based on the principle that a false complainant of rape has not been raped and has to fabricate a story while the story of a true victim is based on recollections of the event. Consequently, false complainants will behave as liars do, construct their story based on their own sexual experiences and on mental representations, beliefs of how such a crime would happen (De Zutter et al. in Eur J Psychol Appl Leg Context. doi:10.1016/j.ejpal.2016.02.002, 2016). To test the theory and to build a model to discriminate between true and false allegations of rape, a police sample of true and false allegations was studied. A total of 129, 72 true and 57 false, allegations of rape fulfilled the stringent criteria of the current study, among others on ground truth. Fifty-four allegations of rape, 27 true and 27 false, were used to build a prediction model based on the theory of bounded rationality by Gigerenzer (2002). The remaining 75 cases, 45 true and 30 false, were blindly categorised as either true or false based on the model. The model was able to predict the true nature of the majority of allegations with an accuracy rate of 91 %. Thus, it seems possible to discriminate to a considerable extend between true and false allegations of rape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-127
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Allegation
  • Characteristics
  • False
  • Rape
  • True


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