Deception Detection Debunked


Courtesy DreamsTime

Evaluating Truthfulness is nothing new, but new technology and training programs based on validated scientific studies have sparked new interest in this field of study.  Pursuit Magazine goes in depth about about behavioral science’s perceptive on how to conduct successful interviews.

Deception detection is not as simple as many people, who are often times untrained, believe or want to believe. Experts agree that it is a complex assessment and requires years of training to be not only good at detecting deception but also accurate.

Individuals such as Joe Navarro and Mark Frank often revisit training techniques or strategies (either via research for a book or in teaching proven techniques to others) to stay on the top of their skill of evaluating truthfulness.

Pursuit Magazine points out that ‘despite what popular books on nonverbal behavior may say, there’s no scientific evidence that crossed arms or legs indicate a non-receptive person, or that deceivers touch their noses, avert their eyes, or cover their mouths.  Unfortunately, deception detection isn’t so simple, say behavioral scientists who actually study communication and deceit using scientific methods. Spotting a lie, it seems, is an inexact science.’

Pursuit interviewed Humintell’s Director Dr. David Matsumoto for this article and he commented, a problem with academic research on the topic: Many experiments are based on low-stakes lies. In the real world, lies that concern investigators or potential employers are usually high stakes—in other words, liars in the interrogation room have a lot more to lose than study participants.

According to Caroline Keating, good liars are ultimately good actors. Her advice on how to lie convincingly is to “rehearse” in order to reduce anxiety.  Good lying, like good acting, is an art that requires a plausible story, well-practiced.

The article also pointed out that Matsumoto has been at the forefront of academic scholarship on nonverbal behavior and cross-cultural psychology.  When asked what actions investigators can take to improve their sensitivity to deception, Matsumoto said:

  • “Get trained on the VALIDATED indicators of veracity and deception, both verbal and nonverbal.”
  • “Learn to strategize their interviewing techniques to maximize the potential for them to receive CLEAR verbal and nonverbal signals to interpret.”

To learn more about proven, effective techniques used to catch liars in high-stakes situations as well as some history and experts in the field of nonverbal behavior read the entire article.


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