Is it possible to tell if someone is lying?

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Is it possible to tell if someone is lying?

Of course, it is not possible to tell if he is lying or not just by looking at someone.

Of course, it is not possible to tell if he is lying or not just by looking at someone. While psychologists have introduced some useful techniques, some indicators that are still in use have already been scientifically refuted.

17-year-old Marty Tankleff, New Yorkwhen his mother was stabbed and his father was found killed by a stick in his home in the Long Island area of ​​Turkey. police He spent 17 years in prison because the authorities did not believe that he was not guilty.

In another case, 16-year-old Jeffrey Deskovic was distraught when his classmate was found strangled and was eager to help detectives. Since his attitude was found suspicious, he was also sentenced to 16 years.

So how did it come to conclude that they were exhibiting secret guilt because one was not sad enough and the other was too sad?

Maria Hartwig, who researched lies and deception at the John Jay School of Criminal Trials at New York City University, emphasizes that these two men, who were later exonerated, fell victim to the misperception of deciding whether or not a person is lying based on behavior.

In many cultures, there is a belief that behaviors such as blindfolding, playing with fingers, and stuttering are signs of lies and betray the person.

However, no definitive findings on this have been obtained in research over decades. Just as in the two examples above, “errors in the detection of lies have a heavy price to society and people fall victim to false judgments,” says Hartwig.

Psychologists realize that it is very difficult to spot a lie. In 2003, Bella DePaulo and her team examined 116 previous experiments and tried to understand how people behave when telling lies and truths. Blindfolding, blinking, speaking louder, shrug, sitting differently, head movements, hand, arm and leg movements. He had evaluated behavioral symptoms such as movements.

However, none of these were clearly linked to lying; The change in tone of voice and the size of the pupils that only the human ear could not detect were seen as very poorly associated with lying.

Later research has also shown that the predictions of which behavior are linked to lying are almost at the same level as reaching the correct conclusion by chance.

In other words, it was concluded that some very limited behaviors may be related to lying or telling the truth, but these do not generate strong data to be reliable indicators.

However, police officials say that the attitude of the suspects encountered in the actual investigations will not be the same as the subjects who were used voluntarily in the laboratory environment.

Samantha Mann, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth in England, says that there is some merit in this criticism. When the footage from the police interview of a real murder prisoner was watched by the police who did not understand that language, they were asked to guess what the murderer was lying about by observing his behavior, 64 percent of them had the correct conclusion. While this was far higher than 50 percent, which would indicate the coincidence outcome, it was still not at a level to be trusted.

Judgments based on stereotypes

The police who reached the most wrong conclusions were those based on certain patterns such as “liars look away” or “play with their hands” about the behavior of the murderer.

Mann says the killer keeps his behavior against such patterns in check, even though he’s under stress.

In another study conducted by Mann and his team with different police officers, it was seen that the predictions about the right and wrong elements in the statements of the family members who appeared on television and displayed their sadness even though they killed a relative, could not go beyond the situation of reaching the correct conclusion by chance.

When Hartwig and Charles Bond later examined similar studies, they could not find any data that the lies told in real police interviews were easier to detect than the lies told in laboratory conditions.

Ronald Fisher, a psychologist at Florida International University in the United States and trained Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, emphasizes that the cheaters know how to hide their anxiety. “There is not much research comparing the inner feelings of people with what is felt from the outside. Liars are more anxious, but this is an inner feeling and can be different from the behavior observed from the outside,” he says.

Verbal signs of a lie

For this reason, researchers have almost ceased to detect lies based on behavior. So, are there any other ways to detect the lie and the liar?

Psychologists now focus on the verbal manifestations of lies; The differences between the expressions of those who tell the truth and those who tell the truth are tried to be determined.

One of the methods of this is that the evidence is not immediately disclosed in police interviews, allowing the suspect to speak freely for longer periods of time, and thus focusing on the contradictions in the testimony.

Hartwig taught this technique to 41 police officers during the training, and 85 percent success was achieved in detecting lies. This rate was 55 percent among the 41 police officers who did not receive this training.

As another interview technique, suspects and witnesses are asked to describe any crime scenes or share details of false testimonies about the suspect. Correct testimonies can share much more details.

Behavioral indicators still applynyor

However, it appears that the police and other security forces in the US have not yet implemented such science-based reforms. For example, in the transport unit of the national security department, behavioral indicators are emphasized in the examinations and investigations of airline passengers.

When observing persons suspected of lying, the authorities are asked to focus on the following acts: averting – which is used in some cultures as a sign of respect – stare, quick winking, complaining, whistling, exaggerated yawning, closing mouth while talking, excessive hand arm movements, appearing to straighten or clear one place. However, the misconception that these behaviors are signs of lying has already been refuted.

Due to investigations based on such superficial and uncertain indications, there were 2251 official complaints between 2015-18 where passengers reported being subjected to discriminatory treatment for reasons such as nationality, race and ethnic origin.

Although the number of 94 indicators used in passenger screening at airports in the USA was reduced to 36 in 2013, the list still contains many scientifically disproved elements such as “excessive sweating”.

However, officials cite two success stories in which three passengers were prevented from boarding with explosive and flammable devices in the last 11 years thanks to behavioral surveillance.

Mann believes that this success cannot be measured without knowing how many terrorists have crossed this system without being identified. In the trials conducted in 2015, 95 percent success was achieved in getting over the airport security and boarding the plane with fake explosives and weapons.

In a paper published in 2019, Mann, Hartwig and 49 other researchers recommended that security forces abandon behavior-based surveillance, stressing that this is unscientific and “endangers the life and freedom of individuals.”

Tankleff, who was accused of murdering his parents because of his calm appearance and was sentenced to 17 years at the age of 17, tried to clear his name for years and struggled to register with the bar association for lawyer. Tankleff, who eventually enrolled in the New York bar in 2020, had to learn to transcend his closed nature and show his feelings. Lonnie Soury, who helps her along this path, explains why it’s important to show emotions:

“People are very prejudiced.”

(Retrieved from Knowable Magazine)


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