How to Detect a Lie

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Paul Ekman published a study in 1991 in which much was learned about lying and people's accuracy when detecting lies. In the study, participants were shown video clips of people talking and were asked to judge whether or not the people were lying in the video clip. Ekman tested certain groups of people including the Secret service, federal polygraphers, robbery investigators, judges, psychiatrists, and college students.

The results indicated that the only group that performed significantly better than the rest at detecting lies was the Secret Service. Ekman's explanation of this was that the Secret Service spends a lot of time scanning crowds and reading body language. Paying attention to non-verbal cues is very important in detecting lies.

Lie Detection by Group.png

Liars tend to show nervous behavior such as crossing their arms, tapping their fingers, and leaning back in their chairs while they are fibbing. They also tend to speak in a slightly higher tone while lying. Shifty eyes may also be indicative of a lie.

Better lie detectors rely on both verbal and non-verbal cues and are better able to detect subtle facial expressions. It was also found that neither gender out-performed the other in the study.

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Wow, your facts were quite informative. It's quite interesting that even college students scored higher than federal polygraphers, considering that they doing more lie detecting than students. I wonder what other behaviors are exposed when someone lies to another?

I think it would be very hard to find a method that can accurately detect lies close to 100% of the time, especially because there are some who are skilled at lying and manipulation. I'm doing a paper on psychopathy; because psychopaths do not feel remorse or guilt, they don't have the "twitches" or characteristic behaviors of lying, and they also don't exhibit autonomic responses such as sweating or change in heart rate when lying, making it very difficult to evaluate them.

This is an interesting topic. Many people tell lies, and it's always hard to tell them apart from the truth, when the person is really good at lying! Most of the time when I tell fibs, I can't resist laughing in my head, and I eventually spoil them. But there's always those good liars where you could not tell if he was lying or not. I definitely think that the eyes shifting thing and voice changing thing is true. Also, sometimes it funny when people lie and their face turns really red, that is hilarious but sucks for the person.

Interesting. I'm a person who is really not good at lying. When I lie to the others, people will say:"Look at your wired facial expression, you must tell a lie." I always curious when I people lie to the other, what difference will he look like.

I found some interesting sites on Stumbleupon over the last year that talked about nonverbal cues and lying. I guess you could say that I became somewhat obsessive compulsive about body language and always tried to control my nonverbal cues (kinda weird, I know). However, knowing some of these cues has helped me determine when someone is telling the truth or B.S.-ing me.

I find this to be a really interesting concept. I have started to try and pick these things out when I think someone might be telling a lie. I have definitely noticed eye shifting in people when lying and odd or unnecessary facial expressions. It is interesting too that some people can be really good at lying and others are really bad.

It is interesting to me how humans often trust machines more than natural observations.. I wonder how the secret service agents compare to the polygraph test!

Lie detection has always fascinated me. I think it would be interesting to understand the cues of lying better, but sometimes the truth hurts. So, I'm not sure that I would want to be as good at detecting lies as a Secret Service agent. I also have been very skeptical of polygraph tests because I think a person gets naturally anxious when put on the spot. If more non-verbal and verbal cues were analyzed, we may obtain more accurate results.

I would sure hope that the Secret Service were number one at detecting lies, so I'm glad that they are. I really liked that example you showed because to me it was very interesting to see how the different groups of people presented could do at detecting lies. I was surprised to see the Robbery Investigators were low on detecting lies because for some reason I always thought that any type of investigators, robbery or not, should be skilled at that.

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