Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 15 “Teachers and Pupils”

In this week’s episode of Lie to Me, Dr. Cal Lightman and his team investigate the shooting of Officer Nick Hardy, who was gunned down after investigating a domestic disturbance call in an apartment building.

The injury left Hardy paralyzed and unable to move any part of his body, including the muscles in his face. Dr. Lightman is brought in by Agent Reynolds (Mekhi Pheifer) to read Hardy’s expressions, challenging him by asking if he could read a man “who can barely move his eyes”.

In short, the answer was yes.

Dr. Lightman observed Hardy’s pupillary responses to examine whether he was responding positively or negatively to a certain question.

While pupillary responses alone cannot be a sign of deceit, according to a article entitled “Cues to Deception” by Bella DePaulo, et al. it “could be regarded as supportive of the hypothesized importance of generalized arousal”. DePaulo also states that “we believe that it (pupillary response) is theoretically and empirically more precise and defensible to interpret these cues as indicative of particular attentional or information-processing activities or of specific affective experiences (e.g., Cacioppo,Petty, & Tassinary, 1989; Ekman et al., 1983; Neiss, 1988; Sparks & Greene, 1992)”.

DePaulo’s journal article which was published in the Psychological Bulletin in 2003, also lays out some interesting facts about liars vs truth tellers. Do people behave differently when they are lying compared with when they are telling the truth? The abstract of the study that investigated 1,338 estimates of 158 cues to deception states that “Results show that in some ways, liars are less forthcoming than truth tellers, and they tell less compelling tales. They also make a more negative impression and are more tense. Their stories include fewer ordinary imperfections and unusual contents. However, many behaviors showed no discernible links, or only weak links, to deceit”. A complete look at the article can be found here.

Given that Lie to Me is a drama and that many facts are either exaggerated or misrepresented, we feel the need to debunk information that may be falsely portrayed in the show. We hope that most viewers do not take what they may “learn” from one or several episodes and immediately start to apply it to real life situations. As with any other subject, its important and crucial to get factual information from credible sources before jumping to any conclusions.

2 responses to “Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 15 “Teachers and Pupils””

  1. Peets says:

    I think it’s also important to observe that micro expressions do play a significant part in assessment, but they are not the only component, there is also the context of body language in general. Especially in assessing threat to life situations the face may be obscured or not visible.

  2. user19938 says:

    Can anyone really see a person’s pupil dilating? I sure can’t at least not from across a table. For example, lets say you’re on a date and you’re sitting across from your lady friend… trying to catch all the microexpressions going on. You can probably catch the smile, any manipulators that occur, but i doubt pupil dilation. I don’t ever see myself going up to someone so close so as to identify the size of their pupils or better yet see them change.

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