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Non-Verbal Clues to Lying Behavior

Non-Verbal Clues to Lying Behavior



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Published by Gregory Cordes
In this paper, I will discuss what is lying, who does it and why. I will discus several lie detection methodologies as well as what circumstances we are most likely to catch a liar. In addition, I will identify lie detection methodologies that do not work. This paper will put special emphasis on non-verbal and facial lie detection models.
In this paper, I will discuss what is lying, who does it and why. I will discus several lie detection methodologies as well as what circumstances we are most likely to catch a liar. In addition, I will identify lie detection methodologies that do not work. This paper will put special emphasis on non-verbal and facial lie detection models.

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Published by: Gregory Cordes on Aug 04, 2009
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Running head: Non-Verbal Clues to Lying BehaviorNon-Verbal Clues to Lying BehaviorGregory CordesGeneral PsychologyPSY7220 Social PsychologyWinter 2008jgcordes@comcast.net AbstractIn this paper, I will discuss what is lying, who does it and why. I willdiscus several lie detection methodologies as well as what circumstances we aremost likely to catch a liar. In addition, I will identify lie detectionmethodologies that do not work. This paper will put special emphasis on non-verbal and facial lie detection models. Non-Verbal Clues in Lying BehaviorIntroductionWhat is lying? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2008),people lie “to make an untrue statement with the intent to deceive” or “to createa false or misleading impression”. While lies are generally sociallyunacceptable, there are exceptions. For example, Paul Ekman (2001) suggestssometimes a lie is not a lie when we break a promise. If the circumstances underwhich the promise changes, we are not obligated to fulfill the promise. If I wasto promise to pick someone up at the movies, and that person does not go there, Iam not obligated to make the trip anyway. Another exception to the rule of lyingis failure to remember. If an individual does not recall, there is no intent todeceive. In 2 other cases, lying is not only acceptable, it is keenly encouraged.In warfare, we expect deceit (Ekman, 2001). As Sun Tzu (400 b. c. e.) puts it,“Warfare is one thing. It is a philosophy of deception”. The maxim “Beware ofGreeks bearing gifts” is unfair, a military opponent is suppose to use guile.Another, lie free zone is gaming (Ekman, 2001). In a game of poker, players areencouraged to bluff and out maneuver their opponents. Misinterpreting andmisunderstanding also fall under the lie free arena, because once again, there isan intent failure (Ekman, 2001). In a final area, lying to serve a moralimperative is not morally questionable. For example, extracting a confession froma guilty individual by use of verbal trickery is a perfectly moral use of lying(Rowland & Bailey, 1994). However, traditional police interrogation techniquescan cause false confessions (Brehm, S. S., Kassin, S. & Fein, S., 2005).Who does it, and why? Probably everyone does it (Hancock & Chafetz, 1966),and the likelihood of being lied to increases in disproportion to who you arespeaking to in terms of relationship closeness (Brehm et al., 2005). That is tosay, the more distant a person is in terms of relationship, people are more likelyto lie (Brehm et al., 2005). This has the ring of truth - clearly theconsequences of lying to spouse are greater than lying to a stranger. It happensto us a lot, about 200 times a day - that is about once every 5 minutes (Geary,2000). Other research suggests this happens once every 3 ½ minutes (Livingstone,2005). Why lie? Ekman (2001) identifies 9 motives. People lie to avoid
punishment against themselves or others. On the other hand, lying to obtain areward is common. Another motive is to avoid physical harm, when punishment isnot the harm. Avoiding embarrassment, getting out of uncomfortable situations,maintaining privacy, and exercise control over others also makes the list (Ekman,2001). In terms of gender, is there a difference in how women and men lie?Pease and Pease (2001) suggest there is a difference in how men and womenlie. Women do it more, better, and are superior lie detectors. The authorssuggest the reason women are superior at lie detection is because they are betterat detecting subtle changes in body language (Pease & Pease, 2001). Thesuggestion women lie more has the ring of truth, in relationship aggression - theability to make a convincing lie is a handy tool in a women’s verbal arsenal,especially in the application of relationship aggression (Brehm et al., 2005).How do we categorize liars?Dimitrius and Mazzarella (1999) tell us liars come in 4 flavors. Mostof us are occasional liars, we feel uncomfortable with deceit. In this case, non-verbal clues just pour out of us. But, in the other 3 categories, the frequent,practiced and professional liar, I will discus later - the clues tend to dry up.Lie detection methodologies. Dry mouth is probably the oldest lie detectionmethod, for the ancient Chinese the inability to spit out a mouthful of ricepowder (Kleinmuntz & Szucko, 1984). Ancient Bedouins would force a suspect liarto lick a high iron - a burn on the tongue would evidence guilt (Kleinmuntz &Szucko, 1984). Most of us cannot detect a liar any better than chance (Ekman,1996). There are several reasons for this. For most of us there is no reward forcatching liars. Many times our relationship with the victimizer is too fleeting.Perhaps the really bad liars did not make the evolutionary grade (Ekman, 1996).But, some of us are good at lie detection, for example nearly 1/3 of United StatesSecret Service score 80% at lie detection, with none scoring at a chance level(Ekman, 1996; Ekman, O’Sullivan, & Frank, 1999). There are techniques that todetect whether someone might be lying.Lieberman (1998) suggests there are several signals in verbal exchange thatshow deceit. These include, using your words in making a point, addinginformation until the liar is certain you have bought the line, stonewalling,liars often offer their beliefs instead of providing a direct answer, and implyingan answer. In addition, liars sometimes take longer to respond, have outlandishreactions, tend to leave out pronouns, speak in a mechanical voice, garble, andcommit syntax and grammar errors. A liar may engage in stalling, this may takethe form of a request such as “Can you repeat the question”, “would you be morespecific”. Lieberman (1998) suggests many times a liar will attempt to changethe subject, and be calmer when the subject changes. The liars may use sarcasm orhumor to deflect interest, or offer an alternative answer, that is to say, notanswer the question, but answer a different one. A liar may use a known fact tosupport a questionable story, or tries to be on your side by pointing outsomething someone else has wronged you. There is a possibility the lie may be sooutrageous, it would be unlikely anyone would believe it at face value. Manytimes, a liar’s answer sounds much like a question (Lieberman, 1998). The soundwe make in our voice is telling.When people decrease their pitch in speech, this tends to evidencestress, while high pitch speech indicates excitement (Geary, 2000). In contrast,Ekman (2003) finds voice pitch rises when people lie. Fluctuations in voice wecannot hear are telling - fluctuations as a result low blood flow to the vocalchords because of muscle tension in the neck as a result of stress (Geary, 2000).This is not a binary relationship, a yes or a no, but works in degrees. That isto say, even if the individual bares some degree of guilt, fluctuations show aninconsistency (Geary, 2000). Tone plays apart, but volume does too. Sometimespeople lower their voice when lying, if they must lie they prefer to do quietly(Dimitrius & Mazzarella, 1999). Many times liars will increase their rate ofspeech. In addition to speech, the language liars are different.Liars avoid complex speech, they tend to avoid words as “but” and
“however” (Anonymous, 2004). On the other hand, words as “do” and “walk” arecommon in an attempt to divert attention. Liars use more words conveying negativeemotion, and do not make compelling remarks (Anonymous, 2004). Interestingly,people without the ability to understand words at all, aphasics, do better atdetermining whether someone is lying than most people (Etcoff, Ekman, Magee, &Frank, 2000). There is some evidence liar’s own words entangle them. Grice’scooperative principle states writers should strive to achieve quality, tell aprovable truth – quantity, provide only sufficient information – relation, thewriter should stay on topic – and manner, avoid ambiguity (McGowan, n.d.).Inexperienced writers do violate Grice’s maxims more when writing falsely thantruly (LaFond, n. d.). From time to time we have all seen this, a lengthy utilityrate hike notification that sounds like they are doing us a favor by increasingthe cost. There are several ways liars set us up for a lie.Liars use sound psychological principles to set us up (Lieberman,1998). For example, the liars will tell you they are just like you, people likethe familiar. They will offer you a gift and rely on reciprocation. In othercases, when you have already invested in something great, they will offer yousomething in addition that is small. They will ask you to do a little something,then using lies, salami slice their way up. Some will tell you everyone is doingit, rely on obedience to authority by wearing a uniform or laboratory coat, ortell you it is rare (Lieberman, 1998). Darrel Huff (1993) says lying withstatistics is easy - it is simply a matter of how you frame the numbers, defineaverage, or scale the chart. Lieberman (1998) suggests another method of liedetection, one we can anchor in Pavlovian psychology.This particular strategy is an attempt at getting the truth. Lieberman(1998) suggests you ask a series of questions you know the target will answertruthfully. At specific points, anchor the truthful response with a gesture, onethat is not too obvious. Intermittently, condition the individual in questionwith the anchor whenever you are sure the answer is correct. Then, use thegesture when you ask a question you are not sure the individual will answertruthfully (Lieberman, 1998). This method might work with small sins, but I donot see anyone confessing to murder with this device.With regard to criminal investigations withholding “guilty knowledge”is essential tool in law enforcement (Rowland & Bailey, 1994). Simply put, lawenforcement does not release all information relevant to a crime. Determiningwhether a suspect has “guilty knowledge” is vital tool in establishing guilt.Law enforcement uses “guilty knowledge” to validate confessions (Rowland & Bailey,1994). The flip of “guilty knowledge” is “guilty innocence”. We would expectphysicians to know what a stethoscope does - otherwise, we would have to doubt theveracity of their professional claim. Another methodology is to look forfallacies of logic.There are 42 fallacies of logical at the disposal of the liar. Theseinclude attacking the person and not the argument - claims or actions of anotherare inconsistent and therefore untrue - appeals to a false authority - appeals toemotion, fear, flattery, novelty, pity, popularity, ridicule, spite, tradition,threat of rejection – begging the question – bias sample – shifting the burden ofproof – self interest – composition – confusing cause with effect – division –false dilemma – gambler’s fallacy – genetic failure to name a few (Dell’Amico,2008).What are the best circumstances to catch a liar? According to Ekman (2001),there are several circumstances when a liar is vulnerable. For example, when theliar has never told this particular or type of lie, if the lie is high stakes, orthe risk of severe punishment exists. When the interviewer is open-minded anddoes not come to conclusions too quickly, if the interviewee speaks as much aspossible, and when both share a common cultural background. The interviewer mustunderstand the difficulties and how to interpret non-verbal clues to lyingbehavior (Ekman, 2001).Methodologies that do not work. The eyes do not have it, polygraphs are

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