Lie detection – what are you looking for

In real life situations figuring out that someone just lied to you can be both – extremely easy, if you know the basics and in some cases extremely hard, because emotional impact is so low.

The basics

Always compare to an established baseline. It is often easier to know the common behavior of people we know. Yet, we rarely analyze those who are close to us. Also, always remember that there is no lying indicator per se – there are incongruences or hot spots to dig into. Spotting those is only half of success in lie detection since we cannot be sure of reasons behind incongruences.

While establishing the baseline behavior and then detecting lies it is very helpful to have another person who is talking to the one examined. Looking for clues in body language or facial expressions is a very intense task for our cognitive capabilities. Speaking while analyzing raises the risk of skipping over hot spots.

Facial expressions leak the most information. This is because “reliable facial muscles” – these occupy space around outside parts of our eyes and above eyebrows. Only 10% of population have full conscious control over those – we call them natural actors. Have you ever heard that “smile is in the eyes”? Now you know why – fake smile do not incorporate those muscles, hence it lacks wrinkles around eyes. So if eyes tell you the opposite story than the rest of the face, of what emotion examined person feels – bingo, you’ve spotted a hot spot.

Ask the right questions

Classical case: You ask series of questions in aggressive manner expecting quick answers. Examined person is scared and incongruent. Why are you scared you ask – but you intuitively know that this liar is just scared of truth coming out. Well, that is just wrong.

Building up pressure in order to see more clearly facial expressions is one thing. Even it is obsolete and should be treated as last resort tactic. Person examined can be scared just by that aggression and pressure or not being believed. Incongruences can appear in such conditions even when someone is telling the truth.

Helpful technique is to keep at least two or three threads open so you can jump between them to see more clearly the baseline and hot spot in contrast. Then you jump back to spotted incongruence, to dig some more. That is helpful not only from the side of behavioral clues, but also this jumping from one thread to another is tough for cognitive process of presumed liar so more hot spot should come up.

Business setting

We expect our business to grow this year.

This is a statement which could make you money or lose it depending if it’s true or false. Obviously person stating that could hold wrong belief about their business, but well, we’re not miracle makers.

Use lie detection to see where your associates made stretched analysis and only hope for the best. Method is the same. Establish baseline while talking about past or non-business related stuff. Keep minimum two threads open to easily jump from one to another – to further establish baseline and see contrasting differences.

Przemek Kucia