FBI Bulletin, Reading People: Behavioral Anomalies and Investigative Interviewing- 2014
The FBI’s March 2014 Bulletin featured important interviewing techniques and detailed information on reading people. Drs. David Matsumoto, Humintell’s Director, and Hyisung Hwang as well as former FBI Special Agent Lisa Skinner commented on the scientific evidence behind behavioral anomalies that they have found through years of research and training.
Many law enforcement professionals understand and appreciate the importance of behavioral anomalies. These verbal and nonverbal signs of cognition and emotions provide additional clues to what an individual is thinking and feeling beyond the content of the words being spoken. In the context of investigative interviewing, these behavioral anomalies are called indicators.
When reading people, one important distinction interviewers must make is the difference between validated and non-validated indicators. Those that are validated have scientific and field evidence documenting the association between the behavior and specific cognition or emotions. Non-validated indicators lack such data—either in scientific evidence, field operations, or both.
This bulletin give a great example of validated and non-validated indicators. Take the example provide below of an interview of a suspect:
There are validated and non-validated indicators imbedded in the example at the beginning of this article. Do You Know What They Are?
1. The flash of the eyes so that the white above the iris is seen is a validated indicator of concealed fear,
2. The suspect’s comments about behavior that did not occur are indicative of a potential lie i.e is a validated indicator.
3. Looking up to the left and twitching of the left eyebrow are not validated indicators of lying, even though many people believe they are.
Researchers, Drs. Matsumoto and Hwang and former FBI agent Skinner agree that, “Anomalies provide important cues and valuable insight into the personality, motivation, and intention of suspects. Investigators must ask themselves some important questions based on their observation of behavioral anomalies.”
Statement and nonverbal analysis are not new to law enforcement as the techniques have been taught to investigators for years. However, in real-life, indicators of veracity and lying occur simultaneously, and awareness of both increases an investigator’s ability to identify meaningful content areas of an interview. The importance of considering verbal and nonverbal indicators concurrently was highlighted in a recent study—published in a previous FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.
Humintell offers training for leaning how to read facial expressions of emotion as well as live webinars and webinar recordings that have the practical applications of their facial expression training. Some of the practical applications of studying facial expressions of emotion such as microexpressions is outlined in further examples in the FBI Bulletin.