Truth Detectors: Can You Spot the Truth?
Do you trust that most people are honest? A new study suggests that trusting people often make better lie detectors than cynical people. The study, published by SAGE and posted on the Science Daily website, insists that trusting people are not gullible but in fact very smart.
Researchers asked 20 participants to watch taped job interviews where half of the interviewees told the truth and half told at least three substantial lies. Days before the participants were to “judge” the recorded interviews for truthfulness, they were given a questionnaire that measured their trust in other people. Some sample questions were: “Most people are basically honest,” and “Most people are basically good natured and kind.” They then watched the videos.
Researchers found that people who were more trusting of others scored higher than those who were not very trusting. Contrary to what you might think, people who were untrusting were more likely to hire liars and less likely to recognize they were liars. Many people believe that untrusting people are better lie detectors and less gullible than trusting individuals, but this study has shown that this is not the case.
In a related article, “The Wizards Project”, a study was conducted by the late Maureen O’Sullivan, which also examined the extraordinary ability of people to detect lies. In this study, 20,000 individuals including law enforcement, attorneys, arbitrators and psychologists were tested to see if they had a true ability to detect deception. Of the 20,000 tested only fifty individuals were found to be natural lie spotters.
Being able to spot a lie and in turn a liar is a great feat considering that the average person’s percentage rate in detecting deception is only 50, which is why the great few who obtained near perfect scores are labeled “Truth Wizards”. A couple of Wizards worth mentioning are JJ Newberry who was one of the most accurate scorers on O’Sullivan’s tests as well as the famous Eyes for Lies blogger who has a 96.9% accuracy rate, according to her website.
According to the study, successful lie detectors are attuned to detecting elusive changes in facial expressions (dubbed micro-expressions), body language and patterns of voice. They look for behavioral and emotional inconsistencies. Microexpressions are flicker-like emotional clues that occur when someone is trying to hide their true feelings. Some people can suppress emotion, but it is almost impossible to eliminate the expression of emotion all together, which is why people emit micro-expressions.
Do you think you are better than the average human at detecting lies? Well, practice might not make perfect in this field of study, but it will definitely improve your accuracy rate.