A Look at the Truth
In order to better detect when someone is lying, Dr. Matsumoto states that it is equally as important to be able to detect when someone is being truthful.
More often than not, those of us who are knowledgeable about the topic of detecting deception and nonverbal behavior tend to know what signs to look for when trying to catch a liar. Based on scientific research done in the field of detecting deception, we know that there both accurate and inaccurate cues to focus on when trying to decipher a lie from the truth.
We know that the cues to deception exist, but occur in many channels including facial expressions of emotion, gesture, verbal style, verbal content as well as others. We also know that there is no Pinnochio effect- that is, there is not 1 reliable clue to deception that alone can determine whether or not someone is lying. Things such as fidgeting, eye gaze, lack of eye contact, scratching of the nose and excessive blinking by itself is not a 100% foolproof way to detect deception.
What is extremely important to focus on are all nonverbal behaviors, particularly facial expressions of emotion. We emphasize looking for inconsistencies between verbal and nonverbal statements, which we call hot spots. For example, if you see someone say the words “I love you” and then you see disgust on their face, this could be a possible hot spot.
Take a look at the video below of a woman named Erin Runnion. Her 5 year old daughter Samantha was kidnapped outside their home 8 years ago. In this video, Runnion confronts her daughter’s killer during the penalty phase. See the raw emotion in her face and the consistent facial expressions she shows. Her words and expressions are powerful- almost to the point where we can feel her pain.
We apologize in advance- the video could not be embedded on this page. However, if you click on the image below, it will take you to the site where you can view the video.
Contrast Runnion’s emotions and behavior to that of Diane Downs, a convicted felon who claimed that a stranger had shot her and her children. It was later found out that Downs had committed the act herself:
As you can see, there is a HUGE discrepancy in their demeanor. Downs often seems distant, emotionless and even is smiling in the interview during parts where it is very inappropriate. Fast forward to 3:04 where Downs is talking about blood coming out of her daughter’s mouth. Downs actually smiles when talking about this subject numerous times- highly inappropriate and inconsistent with a grieving mother.
In Runnion’s confrontation to her daughter’s killer, there is raw emotion, pain and anguish on her face. There is really no mistaking how Runnion truly feels about the situation.