Lie to me, baby

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Are there human lie detectors? That is what Dr. Cal Lightman serves to be in the TV show, "Lie to Me." As cool as some TV series may be, I think we can all agree that one shouldn't take TV to heart.
So how much truth is there to this ability to "read" a person's face and detect a lie?

I found it surprising (and awesome) that federal officers were best at detecting lies among others such as federal judges, sheriffs, and academic psychologists. Even they, however, have an average accuracy of only about 72%. (With Mixed law-enforcement officers coming in last at just over 50% or chance accuracy)


Meanwhile, others like Dr. Paul Ekman still advertize "micro-expression reading" techniques as a legitimate way that anyone can detect lies.

Also, good to note was the finding that there's typically little or no correlation between one's confidence in their ability to detect lies and their accuracy. So, even though you're probably more likely to take someone's word and believe them when they say "I know he was lying..." "I could tell, I'm really good at it," "I'm positive," etc. you shouldn't confuse confidence with correctness.

Have you ever had a time when you "could have sworn" someone was lying and then were proven wrong? or right?


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Reading someone's face is something I think we all have done in our life. Facial expressions have been proven to be pretty universal throughout cultures and I think the lying faces could be too. Since it is pretty difficult to actually know if someone was lying we cannot be always correct, lie you mentioned. I think all of us also have said that we knew we were right when we looking at someone's face and thought they were lying. Only the scientific evidence can prove it though!

I suspect that the officers have the most real life practice in lie detecting, unlike the academic psychologists. Practice must increase your accuracy, it's probably a subconscious thing. That might explain why we are not good at telling how accurate we are just by gauging how confident we feel.

I think lie detecting is related to how sensitive you are along with the practices. If you are the sensitive person, you are more likely to do a good job at lie detecting because the less sensitive person might less pay attention to the micro-movements on someone's face.

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This page contains a single entry by Shawna Zielinski published on May 5, 2012 11:04 PM.

Come on man, Everyones doing it! was the previous entry in this blog.

Fact: All blue-eyed people are LAZY, DUMB, and dishonest. is the next entry in this blog.

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