Researchers have actually developed new strategies to aid police and other investigators capture liars in the act.

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By Laura Zimmerman

March 2016, Vol 47, No. 3

Print version: page 46

7 min read


Zimmerman, L. (2016, March). Deception detection. Screen on Psychology, 47(3). Http://

Research has consistently displayed that people"s ability to recognize lies is no much more accurate 보다 chance, or flipping a coin. This detect holds across all species of world — students, psychologists, judges, task interviewers and law enforcement personnel (Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2006). Particularly when investigating crime, the need for precise deception detection is critical for police officers who must acquire criminals turn off the roads without detaining innocent suspects.

Traditional police methods in deception detection stem from at an early stage theories ~ above lying that assume liars will exhibit stress-based cues due to the fact that they fear being caught and also feel guilty around lying. This concept led researchers to find for reliable behavior indicators of deception. They examined habits such together posture shifts, gaze aversion, and foot and hand movements, without lot success.

"There really is no Pinocchio"s nose," says Judee Burgoon, PhD, a professor of interaction at the university of Arizona.

Given these beforehand findings, today"s researchers space exploring new methods the deception detection. Instead of looking at people for visual cues that they may be dissembling — such together a lack of eye contact or fidgeting — psychologists room now focused on occurring proactive strategies that interviewers have the right to use to elicit indications of deception, states Maria Hartwig, PhD, combine professor of psychology at man Jay college of Criminal Justice.

"The view currently is the the interaction in between deceiver and also observer is a strategy interplay," she says.

Such research has actually "enormous potential come revolutionize law enforcement, military and also private sector investigations," states Christian Meissner, PhD, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, who research studies the psychological procedures underlying investigative interviews.

Questions and also cues

"Liars have a dilemma," claims Ray Bull, PhD, a professor of criminal examination at the college of Derby, in the joined Kingdom. "They have actually to make up a story to account for the moment of wrongdoing, yet they can"t be certain what proof the interviewer has against them."

Both Bull and Hartwig conduct research on criminal investigative interview approaches that encourage interviewees to talk while interviewers slowly reveal evidence.

Their study consistently mirrors that gift strategic around revealing proof of criminal acts come suspects boosts deception detection accuracy rates over chance level (Journal of Investigative Psychology and also Offender Profiling, 2011; Law and also Human Behavior, 2006). For example, Hartwig and also colleagues carried out a collection of research studies to display that withholding proof until late in the interview pipeline room for guilty doubt to blatantly lie, for instance by denying gift in the area of the crime. When the interviewer reveals proof showing the doubt was over there — such as monitoring footage — the suspect needs to scramble to make up an additional lie, or tell the truth. The suspect might admit to gift in the area, however still refuse the crime. If the interviewer then presents an ext evidence, such as corresponding fingerprints indigenous the crime scene, the liar will find it increasingly an overwhelming to keep up the deception (Credibility Assessment: clinical Research and Applications, 2014).

Aldert Vrij, PhD, a professor of used social psychology in ~ the university of Portsmouth in the unified Kingdom, additionally focuses his research on using methods to outsmart liars. "Liars room doing more than informing their stories — they have to make a convincing impression," the says. "If the interviewer makes the interview an ext difficult, it provides the already an overwhelming task that lying also harder."

Another means to make lying more an overwhelming is to boost interviewees" cognitive fill by, for example, questioning them come tell their story in turning back order. Fact tellers have the right to rely on your memories come tell your story backwards, frequently adding much more details, but liars tend to struggle. Research mirrors that liars additionally often administer fewer details around time, location and things castle heard. They also speak an ext slowly, with much more hesitations and also grammatical errors (Law and also Human Behavior, 2008).

Encouraging interviewees to say more during their interviews also helps to recognize liars. "Truth tellers do not automatically say whatever they should say, so when the interviewer urges them to say more, lock give added information," claims Vrij. "Liars frequently have a ready story v little an ext to say. They can not have actually the creativity to come up with more or they might be wake up to say more for fear they will obtain caught."

It"s specifically useful come ask unexpected concerns in interviews, Vrij has actually found. Because liars often prepare your stories, surprise questions can leave them floundering for a solution or contradicting us (Applied Cognitive Psychology, 2014).

Other opportunities of study are evaluating how liars and nonliars talk. Burgoon studies sentence complexity, phrase redundancy, explain context and also other determinants that can identify truth tellers indigenous liars (Journal of Language and also Social Psychology, 2006).

"If liars arrangement what they space going to say, lock will have a larger quantity of words," she says. "But, if liars need to answer top top the spot, castle say much less relative to reality tellers."

That"s since trying to manage what castle say provides up cognitive resources. They may use more single-syllable words, repeat details words or usage words the convey uncertainty, such together "might" quite than "will," she says.

Examining native count and also word selection works well for analysis of text, such as interview transcripts, 911 call transcripts, witness and also suspect composed statements, and also in analysis of written evidence such together emails and social media posts. Study is still required to understand just how well investigators have the right to pick up these cues in real time, claims Burgoon.

Research is likewise examining the communication in between co-conspirators by exploring how two or more people interact as they shot to deceive interviewers (Human Factors: The newspaper of the human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 2012).

"In field situations, such as checkpoints and also street corners, civilization conspire and also collude to acquire away v crime and also terrorist acts," claims psychologist James Driskell, PhD, president of the Florida Maxima Corporation, a company that conducts study in behavioral and social science.

"If two civilization are lying, they need to concoct a story that is continuous with their co-conspirator for this reason they don"t arouse suspicion," states Driskell. "If an officer demands to engage them ~ above the street, it would be useful to recognize what indications to look because that in their responses."

Compared with fact tellers, when liars tell their story together they have tendency to not communicate with each other and they are much less likely to elaborate on every other"s responses, he says. "Truthful dyads room much an ext interactive as they rebuild a shared event from memory," the says.

Culture and context

While recent lie-detection research study has centered on verbal reports, over there is still a function for behavior cues in deception detection research, says David Matsumoto, PhD, professor that psychology at san Francisco State University and also CEO that Humintell, a consulting firm that trains human being to read human being emotions.

Behavioral cues might readjust depending on the varieties of concerns asked and the interview circumstances, that says. "Researchers must take right into account different investigative contexts and circumstances that could elicit different behavioral responses."

One paper definition Matsumoto has studied is culture. In recent research, he discovered culture-specific distinctions in tone of voice and vocal characteristics. For example, his research reflects that Chinese participants tend to speak in higher pitched voices once lying contrasted to reality telling conversely, Hispanics often tend to speak in reduced pitches as soon as lying contrasted to reality telling (International newspaper of Psychology, 2015).

Leanne ten Brinke, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the college of California at Berkeley, additionally considers context in she research, yet focuses on how human being may unconsciously spot deception.

Ten Brinke carried out preliminary study to check out how indirect steps of deception to compare to direct, or conscious, measures. In one study, study participants watched videos of truth tellers and liars and then classified indigenous such as "dishonest" and also "deceitful" matches "honest" and also "genuine."

"The cheat of the task is that pictures of the world in the videos were subliminally flashed if participants divide the words," ten Brinke explains. She uncovered that participants were faster at classifying words associated with lying when flashed images of liars. The exact same was found for pairs of truthful words and images. In contrast, as soon as making aware judgments, participants to be accurate only about fifty percent the time (Psychological Science, 2014).

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While the ide of unconscious deception detection is a relatively brand-new direction in research, it highlights one an ext of the diverse areas psychologists space exploring. These expanding directions in research have resulted in novel investigations that can finally bring about accuracy rates above chance levels.

"A the majority of research is paris in the face of legislation enforcement training and common beliefs," claims Meissner. "As we conduct an ext research, we will learn much more about deception detection. This study has substantial potential come revolutionize legislation enforcement, military and also private ar investigations."