Detecting Lies

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People lie everyday. Lying has become part of our daily lives, whether we lie to make up an excuse for why we are late to class, or if we are omitting the truth in order to keep a secret. Even the most honest people lie, or choose not to tell the truth, in order to protect others feelings. Obviously, there are more serious lies as well such as claiming innocence to a crime that one actually did commit. We begin to lie at a very young age (4 to 5 years old), and continue to do so throughout our entire lives. As some of use learn how to become better at the fine art of lying, we can also become better at detecting lies from others. Oftentimes we state that we can "just tell" when someone is lying, but aren't able to exactly pinpoint the reason why we think that way. Our detection of lies usually results from evaluating the liar's behavior. This behavior includes the words that they are saying, what kind of words they are using (descriptive, generic, etc.), and their body language and other nonverbal cues that they use when delivering a lie.

There are many website and articles that offer "the key" to identifying lying behaviors and they claim that focusing on body language and eye movements can help us detect lies. These keys to lie detection often do not account for the whole situation and are often very unreliable. Nonetheless, some individuals, including law enforcement and judges, are slightly better than average at detecting these lying cues and catching liars. This could be due to the fact these professionals encounter people who frequently lie in their daily work. The television shows "Lie to Me" and "The Mentalist" feature special detectives that use their extraordinary sense of lie detection to bust the criminals. This extraordinary sense of lie detection is not quite realistic. Scientific research has shown that even professionals such as detectives have very high error rates in detecting lies (Ekman & O'Sullivan 1991).

It seems that if detectives and law enforcement officers have difficulty detecting lies, then others will too. The linked Psychology Today article explains a case where a young man lied on his application and scholarship reports all the way to Harvard. It shows that many people can be fooled by lies. Although becoming an expert at lie detection may help you solve crimes and cases of fraud, would we always want to know when someone is lying to us? Would we want others to know when we are lying to them?

Psychology Today Article



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I am a corporate mentalist as well as a former forensics technician for the Illinois State Police. I have studied allot about body language and tells and it is strange what you can determine from the slippage of thoughts from our limbic brain.

I am also a NACA and APCA college entertainer and I perform lectures for student activities where I show an audience how to never be lied to again. I place $500 on the table and we play a game of guess which hand the ring is in. If my mentalism skills cant detect the audience members tells, they get the prize.

The psychology breaks down to the same logic as why hypnosis works. If you hold a thought long enough in your head it becomes a reality! When we got out of the trees 50,000 years ago our brains were positioned to either fight or flee a stressed situation, however now in civilizations; we lie. Our brains are not accustomed to lying so that stress can reveal itself in subtle cues or tells.

If you guys would like more information on Scott Xavier the realcorporate mentalist and check out some of my videos, and also check out the book What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navaro an FBI body expert!

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This page contains a single entry by menig001 published on November 6, 2011 11:14 PM.

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