Category Archives: General

Quick deception links from December 2010

Here are the deception-related crimepsychblog tweets from last month.

Technology-facilitated deception detection (brain scans and machines that go ping):

Interviewing (deception detection the good ole fashion’d way):

  • Eliciting Cues to False Intent: A New Application of Strategic Interviewing
  • Influence of Investigator Bias on the Elicitation of True & False Confessions
  • Looks & Lies: Physical Attractiveness in Online Dating Self-Presentation and Deception. Communication Research 37(3)

And some other deception-related stuff that caught my eye:

Quick deception links

The news that made me happiest in the last few weeks is here: Government abandons lie detector tests for catching benefit cheats (The Guardian, 9 Nov):

The government has dropped plans to introduce controversial lie detector tests to catch benefit fraudsters after trials found that the technology is not sufficiently reliable. The Department for Work and Pensions has given up on “voice risk analysis” (VRA) software after spending £2.16m on trials to assess whether the technology can identify people who are trying to fiddle the system when it eavesdrops on their telephone calls to benefit offices.

Though obviously it would have been good if they hadn’t had to spend £2.16 million to find that out.


Open access to Springer journals means you can grab some good deception research for free, but only until 30 November (so hurry) :

  • Interviewers outperform thermal imaging technology in identifying liars & truth-tellers. Great study, FREE til 30/11
  • Police Lie Detection Accuracy: The Effect of Lie Scenario from Law & Human Behavior 33(6) Free access til 30 Nov
  • The Reliability of Lie Detection Performance in Law & Human Behavior 2009, currently free access til 30 Nov PDF:
  • Outsmarting the Liars: The Benefit of Asking Unanticipated Questions in Law & Human Behavior 2009, currently free access PDF:

You can also bag a free copy of new research on trust and deception courtesy of Sage Publishing:

  • Carter, N., & Mark Weber, J. (2010). Not Pollyannas: Higher Generalized Trust Predicts Lie Detection Ability Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1 (3), 274-279

Not free (as far as I can tell) but looking interesting:

  • Jo Are You Lying to Me? Temporal Cues for Deception — Journal of Language and Social Psychology
  • In press: Role of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in deception when remembering neutral & emotional events Neurosci Res
  • Neat new study on deceptive groups: Extracting Concealed Information from Groups in J. of Forensic Sciences.
  • Aw, bless. New research in Psychol Science 21(10) shows 3-yr-olds have highly robust bias to trust what people say.
  • Fascinating in press article on how honesty is rewarded and deception punished across cultures, in Pers Soc Psychol Bull
  • Articles on reality monitoring, deceptive handwriting (ok, this one is free) & false memory in latest issue of Applied Cog Psy 24(8)

And some other miscellaneous articles and blog posts:

  • In The Job Hunt, People Do Lie, But Honesty Pays Off, Study Finds
  • Misguided: Polygraphs provide false reassurance. Sigh. “Polygraph Testing Against Border Corruption” via Secrecy News
  • To detect lies it’s equally as important to be able to detect when someone is being truthful. via @humintell
  • Blog post from @humintell on interesting new research: Are Children Good Liars?
  • Is It Always Bad To Lie? Review of a new book on deception, via

Now on Twitter

It’s still hard to find the time to keep Crimepsychblog and the Deception Blog updated and I am not sure when (if ever) I will have the time to post as regularly as I used to. Meanwhile I’m still finding plenty of interesting links and papers so rather than waiting til I have time to blog about them properly (which will probably be never) I’m going to give Twitter a go. If I’ve configured the plugin correctly then there should be regular digests of the tweets posted to these blogs, so you can carry on watching here, or follow me at

Delusion and Confabulation

The first 2010 issue of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry is a special issue on Delusion and Confabulation and includes the following articles:

  • Delusion and confabulation: Overlapping or distinct distortions of reality? Robyn Langdon; Martha Turner
  • Varieties of confabulation and delusion, Michael D. Kopelman
  • The affective neuropsychology of confabulation and delusion, Aikaterini Fotopoulou
  • The role of personal biases in the explanation of confabulation, Kasey Metcalf ; Robyn Langdon ; Max Coltheart
  • Temporal consciousness and confabulation: Is the medial temporal lobe “temporal”? Gianfranco Dalla Barba ; Marie-Françoise Boissé
  • Novel insights into false recollection: A model of déjà vécu, Akira R. O’Connor ; Colin Lever ; Chris J. A. Moulin
  • Strategic retrieval, confabulations, and delusions: Theory and data, Asaf Gilboa
  • Beauty and belief: William James and the aesthetics of delusions in schizophrenia, Vaughan J. Carr
  • Hypnotic illusions and clinical delusions: Hypnosis as a research method, Rochelle E. Cox ; Amanda J. Barnier
  • The misidentification syndromes as mindreading disorders, William Hirstein
  • Abductive inference and delusional belief, Max Coltheart ; Peter Menzies ; John Sutton
  • Confabulation, delusion, and anosognosia: Motivational factors and false claims, Ryan McKay ; Marcel Kinsbourne
  • Delusion and confabulation: Mistakes of perceiving, remembering and believing, Robyn Langdon ;T im Bayne
  • Confabulation and delusion: A common monitoring framework, Martha Turner ; Max Coltheart

Research round-up 6: And finally, kids’ lies, online lies and my deception book of the year

Happy new year! Here is the final part of the 2008 deception research round-up, put together to make amends for having neglected this blog over the past few months. This post includes bits and pieces of deception research that didn’t fit too well into the first five round-up posts. Hope you’ve enjoyed them all!


First, a couple of articles about how children learn to lie:

Eye gaze plays a pivotal role during communication. When interacting deceptively, it is commonly believed that the deceiver will break eye contact and look downward. We examined whether children’s gaze behavior when lying is consistent with this belief. …Younger participants (7- and 9-year-olds) broke eye contact significantly more when lying compared with other conditions. Also, their averted gaze when lying differed significantly from their gaze display in other conditions. In contrast, older participants did not differ in their durations of eye contact or averted gaze across conditions. Participants’ knowledge about eye gaze and deception increased with age. This knowledge significantly predicted their actual gaze behavior when lying. These findings suggest that with increased age, participants became increasingly sophisticated in their use of display rule knowledge to conceal their deception.

The relation between children’s lie-telling and their social and cognitive development was examined. Children (3-8 years) were told not to peek at a toy. Most children peeked and later lied about peeking. Children’s subsequent verbal statements were not always consistent with their initial denial and leaked critical information revealing their deceit. Children’s conceptual moral understanding of lies, executive functioning, and theory-of-mind understanding were also assessed. Children’s initial false denials were related to their first-order belief understanding and their inhibitory control. Children’s ability to maintain their lies was related to their second-order belief understanding. Children’s lying was related to their moral evaluations. These findings suggest that social and cognitive factors may play an important role in children’s lie-telling abilities.

Technotreachery – lying via CMC

It’s a popular topic and the literature is growing all the time. Here’s some of the new research published in 2008 about lying in computer-mediated communication:

This study aimed to elaborate the relationships between sensation-seeking, Internet dependency, and online interpersonal deception. Of the 707 individuals recruited to this study, 675 successfully completed the survey. The results showed high sensation-seekers and high Internet dependents were more likely to engage in online interpersonal deception than were their counterparts.

Deception research has been primarily studied from a Western perspective, so very little is known regarding how other cultures view deception… this study proposes a framework for understanding the role Korean and American culture plays in deceptive behavior for both face-to-face (FTF) and computer-mediated communication (CMC). … Korean respondents exhibited greater collectivist values, lower levels of power distance, and higher levels of masculine values than Americans. Furthermore, deceptive behavior was greater for FTF communication than for CMC for both Korean and American respondents. In addition to a significant relationship between culture and deception, differences were found between espoused cultural values and deceptive behavior, regardless of national culture. These results indicate the need for future research to consider cultural differences when examining deceptive behavior.

This study set out to investigate the type of media individuals are more likely to tell self-serving and other-oriented lies, and whether this varied according to the target of the lie. One hundred and fifty participants rated on a likert-point scale how likely they would tell a lie. Participants were more likely to tell self-serving lies to people not well-known to them. They were more likely to tell self-serving lies in email, followed by phone, and finally face-to-face. Participants were more likely to tell other-oriented lies to individuals they felt close to and this did not vary according to the type media. Participants were more likely to tell harsh truths to people not well-known to them via email.

Detecting deception

OK, I know this probably could have gone into an earlier post. However, it does involve a bit of machinery so it didn’t fit in part 1, but the machinery has been in use for several decades so it couldn’t really fit in post 2.

An increasing number of researchers are exploring variations of the Concealed Knowledge Test (CKT) as alternatives to traditional ‘lie-detector’ tests. For example, the response times (RT)-based CKT has been previously shown to accurately detect participants who possess privileged knowledge. Although several studies have reported successful RT-based tests, they have focused on verbal stimuli despite the prevalence of photographic evidence in forensic investigations. Related studies comparing pictures and phrases have yielded inconsistent results. The present work compared an RT-CKT using verbal phrases as stimuli to one using pictures of faces. This led to equally accurate and efficient tests using either stimulus type. Results also suggest that previous inconsistent findings may be attributable to study procedures that led to better memory for verbal than visual items. When memory for verbal phrases and pictures were equated, we found nearly identical detection accuracies.

Deception book of the year

And finally, an important publication in 2008 was the second edition of Aldert Vrij’s Detecting Lies and Deceit: Pitfalls and Opportunities. The first edition (published in 2000) has been one of my key references for scholarly research on deception, along with Paul Ekman’s Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage and Granhag and Stronwall’s edited volume on The Detection of Deception in Forensic Contexts. Not surprising then that Vrij’s second edition is already one of the most frequently consulted volumes on my deception bookshelf.

Vrij says that he did not originally envisage updating his 2000 book until at least 2010, but felt with the increasing amount of new research in this area, and increasing interest from law enforcement and security agencies in detecting deception that he could not wait that long. The result is a volume that is substantially updated with research published up to about the middle of 2007. The book has been completely rewritten and there are several new chapters covering recent developments in mechanical methods of deception detection, including brain scanning technologies (e.g., fMRI, P300 brain waves), thermal imaging and voice stress analysis. Vrij also adds a helpful chapter on how professionals can become better lie detectors.

It’s not perfect – I’d welcome more detail on on understanding the reasons why people lie (the book is mostly about catching liars), more on creating a context in which someone is more likely to tell the truth, and more discussion of cross-cultural differences in deception (though to be fair there is shockingly little research in this area to discuss). But despite these criticisms, Vrij’s new book remains a ‘must have’ reference for academics and professionals interested in up-to-date research on deception detection. Practitioners in particular should heed Vrij’s warning about over-hyped techniques for ‘deception detection’: as Vrij says, the best way to avoid falling for the hype is by keeping up to date with the independent, objective research on deception detection. This book is a great tool for giving yourself a grounding in that research.

Phew. Six months’ blogging in 6 days. Hope you enjoyed it!

Research round-up 4: When people lie

On to part 4 of this series on research published in 2008 that I didn’t get a chance to blog about when it came out, where we take a peek at some of the new research on circumstances in which people lie and what makes them seem credible.

Part 1: Catching liars
Part 2: New technologies
Part 3: Magic

First, lying in an extreme situation: Harpster and her colleagues reported results of a study that suggests that detailed linguistic analysis of calls made to the emergency services can help determine whether the caller might have committed the homicide they are reporting:

This study examined verbal indicators to critically analyze 911 homicide statements for predictive value in determining the caller’s innocence or guilt regarding the offense. One hundred audio recordings and transcripts of 911 homicide telephone calls obtained from police and sheriffs departments throughout the United States provided the database for the study. Using qualitative approaches for formulating the linguistic attributes of these communications and appropriate quantitative analyses of the resulting variables, the likelihood of guilt or innocence of the 911 callers in these adjudicated cases was examined. The results suggest that the presence or absence of as many as 18 of the variables are associated with the likelihood of the caller’s guilt or innocence regarding the offense of homicide. These results are suggestive of up to six distinct linguistic dimensions that may be useful for examination of all homicide calls to support effective investigations of these cases by law enforcement.

Staying in the forensic realm, Tess Neal and Stanley Brodsky wondered how expert witnesses can enhance their credibility. They reported results indicating that eye contact with the lawyer cross-questioning them and with mock jurors enhances the credibility of male experts, though it does not seem to have an impact on female experts’ credibility:

The effect of eye contact on credibility was examined via a 3 (low, medium, high eye contact) x 2 (male, female) between-groups design with 232 undergraduate participants. A trial transcript excerpt about a defendant’s recidivism likelihood was utilized as the experts’ script. A main effect was found: Experts with high eye contact had higher credibility ratings than in the medium and low conditions. Although a confound precluded comparisons between the genders, results indicated that males with high eye contact were more credible than males with medium or low eye contact. The female experts’ credibility was not significantly different regardless of eye contact. Eye contact may be especially important for males: Male experts should maintain eye contact for maximum credibility.

If you’re a rape victim, however, police investigators believe you’re more credible when you cry or show despair whilst giving your evidence:

Credibility judgments by police investigators were examined. Sixty-nine investigators viewed one of three video-recorded versions of a rape victim’s statement where the role was played by a professional actress. The statements were given in a free recall manner with identical wording, but differing in the emotions displayed, termed congruent, neutral and incongruent emotional expressions. Results showed that emotions displayed by the rape victim affected police officers’ judgments of credibility. The victim was judged as most credible when crying and showing despair, and less credible when being neutral or expressing more positive emotions. This result indicates stereotypic beliefs about rape victim behavior among police officers, similar to those found for lay persons. Results are discussed in terms of professional expertise.

From detecting lying by the police to police deception: Geoffrey Alpert and Jeffrey Noble published a discussion piece in Police Quarterly in which they consider the circumstances, nature and impact of conscious, unconscious, ‘acceptable’ and unacceptable lying by police officers:

Police officers often tell lies; they act in ways that are deceptive, they manipulative people and situations, they coerce citizens, and are dishonest. They are taught, encouraged, and often rewarded for their deceptive practices. Officers often lie to suspects about witnesses and evidence, and they are deceitful when attempting to learn about criminal activity. Most of these actions are sanctioned, legal, and expected. Although they are allowed to be dishonest in certain circumstances, they are also required to be trustworthy, honest, and maintain the highest level of integrity. The purpose of this article is to explore situations when officers can be dishonest, some reasons that help us understand the dishonesty, and circumstances where lies may lead to unintended consequences such as false confessions. The authors conclude with a discussion of how police agencies can manage the lies that officers tell and the consequences for the officers, organizations, and the criminal justice system.

In everyday life, when do people think it’s ok to lie? BeverlyMcLeod and Randy Genereux’s results suggest that your personality traits influence what sorts of lying you find acceptable, and when:

The present study investigated the role of individual differences in the perceived acceptability and likelihood of different types of lies. Two-hundred and eighty seven college students completed scales assessing six personality variables (honesty, kindness, assertiveness, approval motivation, self-monitoring, and Machiavellianism) and rated 16 scenarios involving lies told for four different motives (altruistic, conflict avoidance, social acceptance, and self-gain lies). Our central hypothesis that the perceived acceptability and likelihood of lying would be predicted by interactions between personality characteristics of the rater and the type of lie being considered was supported. For each type of lie, a unique set of personality variables significantly predicted lying acceptability and likelihood.

What is the impact of lying? Robert Lount and his colleagues warned that it’s difficult to recover from an early breach of trust in a relationship:

Few interpersonal relationships endure without one party violating the other’s expectations. Thus, the ability to build trust and to restore cooperation after a breach can be critical for the preservation of positive relationships. Using an iterated prisoner’s dilemma, this article presents two experiments that investigated the effects of the timing of a trust breach—at the start of an interaction, after 5 trials, after 10 trials, or not at all. The findings indicate that getting off on the wrong foot has devastating long-term consequences. Although later breaches seemed to limit cooperation for only a short time, they still planted a seed of distrust that surfaced in the end.

And finally, a couple outside the psychology/criminology literature that may be of interest:

Next round up (part 5): research on the psychophysiology of lying.

Forthcoming conference on interviewing and deception

The 3rd International Conference on Investigative Interviewing will be held 16-18 June 2008 in Quebec, Canada. The theme is “The Search for the Truth”. According to the website:

This conference is mainly addressed to:
• investigators and civilian and police personnel from Québec, Canadian, and international police forces;
• investigators from Quebec, Canadian, and international governmental organizations;
• academics and researchers from fields closely related to investigations;
• and Crown Attorneys.

The chair of the Scientific committee, Michel St Yves writes:

The statements of witnesses, victims and suspects, represent a considerable part of the work conducted by investigators. Testimonials and facts must be brought together in order to solve the puzzle. Testimonials bring meaning to the facts and make them live. It is through testimonials that we establish the truth.

It is with tremendous pride that I invite you to participate in the third great assembly. The search for the truth through witness, victim, and suspect accounts, is at the very essence of the pursuit for justice.

More details, including a programme, details of speakers and a registration form on the conference website. (Note: the site doesn’t work properly with Opera but it’s fine with Firefox and IE.)

NPR on lie detection

Hat tip to (a great blog associated with the American Journal of Bioethics):

This past week NPR’s Morning Edition carried a three-part series about lie detection reported by Dina Temple-Raston. (The segments are posted as both audio and text, so they’re easy to scan if you can’t listen.) The series covers the questionable accuracy of polygraphs, the emerging field of lie detection by fMRI, and the examination of facial “micro expressions” for hints of lies.

Head over to for some commentary, or go straight to the NPR site for more details.

Credibility Assessment work at the US Dept of Defense

Via Secrecy News (12 Feb), news of a US Department of Defense Directive [pdf] (number 5210.48, issued 25 Jan 07) relating to the polygraph and “credibility assessment”. The latter term is defined as:

The multi-disciplinary field of existing as well as potential techniques and procedures to assess truthfulness that relies on physiological reactions and behavioral measures to test the agreement between an individual’s memories and statements.

The Directive also transfers existing work on polygraphy and credibility assessment (PCA) to the DoD’s Counter Intelligence Field Activity, which will be responsibile for:

5.2.3. Establish[ing] a process to monitor responsible and effective application of PCA examinations within the Department of Defense.
5.2.4. Establish[ing] DoD PCA standards for education, training, certification, quality assurance, and research.
5.2.5. Properly research[ing] and develop[ing] PCA techniques, instrumentation, and technologies before recommending deployment.
[my emphasis]

See also: AntiPolygraph Blog comments on the DoD Polygraph makeover

Faking good in Emotional Intelligence Tests

Hat tip to Paul Barrett’s IDANET mailing list:

This study investigated the fakability of the Emotional Quotient Inventory Short Form (EQ-i:S), a mixed-model emotional intelligence test developed by Bar-On (2002). A sample of 229 undergraduate students from a southeastern university completed a battery of selection and assessment measures in both an honest and faking good condition. When responded to honestly, the EQ-i:S is predicted by The Big Five with a multiple correlation of .79. Therefore, the EQ-i:S can be viewed as an aggregation of The Big Five constructs. When faking, respondents were able to improve scores on the EQ-i:S, each of its subtests, and each of The Big Five measures. Respondents improved scores on the EQ-i:S by .83 SD. Faking on the EQ-i:S was primarily predicted by cognitive ability and agreeableness. The relative ease with which respondents can substantially raise their scores limits the value of the EQ-i:S as an applicant screening tool. The substantial extent to which the EQ-i:S is predicted by The Big Five casts doubt on the construct of emotional intelligence as operationalized in the EQ-i:S


Scientific and unscientific research on ‘techno-treachery’

Friends Provident (a financial services company) has garnered a fair amount of interest in the media with a pop survey of deception behaviour. Here’s how Reuters (28 Dec) covered it:
Gadgets seen as best way to tell white lies

More than four out of five people admit to telling little white lies at least once a day and the preferred way of being “economical with the truth” is to use technology such as cell phones, texts and e-mails, a survey on Thursday said.

The research by UK pollsters 72 Point found that “techno-treachery” was widespread with nearly 75 percent of people saying gadgets like Blackberrys made it easier to fib.

Just over half of respondents said using gadgets made them feel less guilty when telling a lie than doing it face to face, the study on behalf of financial services group Friends Provident found.

You can find the Friends Provident press release here. This seems to be becoming an annual adventure for FP – in December 2005 they announced another new survey on lying in a press release entitled “Three in four Britons tell white lies at least once a day“. Some of the topics were the same in the 2005 study as the 2006 one, and comparing the reported percentage agreements will give you a good idea of how ‘scientific’ these surveys are (or aren’t).

If you would like to read real scientific research on deception and computer-mediated communication, you could take a look at the work of Lina Zhou who has has been researching deception via gadets and online for the last few years, or Adam Joinson, who has a book coming out in 2007 on “Truth, Trust and Lies on the Internet”. Or try Hancock et al.’s 2004 study of deception via email, phone and face to face communication. Here are some references to get you started:

* Hancock, J. T., Thom-Santelli, J., & Ritchie, T. (2004). Deception and Design: The Impact of Communication Technology on Lying Behavior. Letters CHI, 6(1). See also Tasty Research commentary.
* Joinson, A.N. and Dietz-Uhler, B. (2002). Explanations for the perpetration of and reactions to deception in a virtual community. [PDF full text] Social Science Computer Review, 20 (3), 275-289.
* Zhou, L. (2005). An empirical investigation of deception behavior in instant messaging. Ieee Transactions on Professional Communication, 48(2), 147-160.
* Zhou, L., Burgoon, J. K., Zhang, D. S., & Nunamaker, J. F. (2004). Language dominance in interpersonal deception in computer-mediated communication. Computers in Human Behavior, 20(3), 381-402.
* Zhou, L., Burgoon, J. K., & Twitchell, D. P. (2003). A longitudinal analysis of language behavior of deception in e-mail. In Intelligence and Security Informatics, Proceedings (Vol. 2665, pp. 102-110).
* Zhou, L., Burgoon, J. K., Twitchell, D. P., Qin, T. T., & Nunamaker, J. F. (2004). A comparison of classification methods for predicting deception in computer-mediated communication.[PDF full text] Journal of Management Information Systems, 20(4), 139-165.

    Griping aside, I do like the term ‘techno-treachery’ though!

Malingering – a special issue of Behavioral Sciences and the Law

The latest issue of Behavioral Sciences and the Law (Sept 2006) is a special on malingering. According to PsychNet-UK (drawing on DSM-IV):

Malingering can be expressed in several forms from pure malingering in which the individual falsifies all symptoms to partial malingering in which the individual has symptoms but exaggerates the impact which they have upon daily functioning. Another form of malingering is simulation in which the person emulates symptoms of a specific disability or dissimulation when the patient denies the existence of problems which would account for the symptoms as in the case of drug abuse. Another form of malingering is false imputation in which the individual has valid symptoms but is dishonest as to the source of the problems […]

There are some interesting papers here: I particularly liked L. Thomas Kucharski and colleagues’ analysis suggesting that, contrary to popular belief, “psychopathy is not a clinically useful indicator of malingering” (p.633). The collection also includes two papers that present broader research on deception: Paul Ekman and Maureen O’Sullivan discussing the the utility of voluntary and involuntary behavior in detecting deception and Angel Crossman and Michael Lewis presenting a study on adults’ ability to detect children’s lying. Ekman and O’Sullivan’s paper is a great overview of the evidence for there being “clear differences in the morphology, timing, symmetry and cohesion between spontaneous (felt) and deliberate (feigned) facial expressions of emotion” (p.683), although they also highlight areas where more research is needed.

Here are the contents. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for free abstracts and access to the full text articles (subscription required, or you can pay per view).

  • Introduction to this issue: malingering – Alan R. Felthous
  • Psychopathy and malingering of psychiatric disorder in criminal defendants – L. Thomas Kucharski, Scott Duncan, Shannon S. Egan, Diana M. Falkenbach
  • Damages and rewards: assessment of malingered disorders in compensation cases – Richard Rogers, Joshua W. Payne
  • Do tests of malingering concur? Concordance among malingering measures – Melanie R. Farkas, Barry Rosenfeld, Reuben Robbins, Wilfred van Gorp
  • From flawed self-assessment to blatant whoppers: the utility of voluntary and involuntary behavior in detecting deception – Paul Ekman, Maureen O’Sullivan
  • Investigating the M-FAST: psychometric properties and utility to detect diagnostic specific malingering – Laura S. Guy, Phylissa P. Kwartner, Holly A. Miller
  • Adults’ ability to detect children’s lying – Angela M. Crossman, Michael Lewis

Politicians cannot tell fibs…

…so says Peter Collett, reports BBC News (5 Sept). Collett made his claims at the British Academy Festival of Science this week:

A politician can never fib flawlessly because their body language will always give them away, psychologists say. No amount of coaching or media training can co-ordinate the hand gestures and facial expressions to fully cover up what a person knows not to be true.

UPDATE (12 Sept): Christian from Mind Hacks was there and adds:

[…] Collett’s talk was really just a collection of highlights from his channel 4 show, in which he identifies ‘tells’ that give away what a politician is really thinking. […] This prompted a journalist next to me to ask – “wouldn’t it have been more logical to have compared how many discomfort gestures Brown made during Blair’s speech with how many he made during a speech by someone else?”.”Yes, you’re right” Collett admitted, “but you’re talking about an actual experiment, this is just something I put together for a TV programme”.

Hmm. Well at least he was honest about that – but wasn’t this supposed to be the BA Science Festival?

Newsflash for Aussies!

If you’re in Australia, and you’re interested in deception, you may well have seen the SBS Insight one hour programme “Liar liar” today at 7.30pm which is now yesterday in Australia… But it’s repeated Friday 25th August at 1pm and Monday 28th August at 2pm so if you missed it you’ll get another chance.

More details here, where you can also purchase a recording of the programme (but only if you happen to be purchasing on behalf of an Australian Educational Institution, dammit). The rest of us will have to watch the programme online here eventually. It doesn’t seem to be up yet, but whilst you’re waiting for the video you can check out the transcript.

Many thanks to David Mallard (Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Australia’s Charles Sturt University) who highlighted this programme on his Psy-Blawg!

UPDATE! David Mallard has posted a review of the programme today (23 Aug)!

Lies, Damned Lies and Résumés

Via Wired , an article on (2 June) on deception in résumés (or Curricula Vitae to us Brits).

[…] The percentage of people who lie to potential employers is substantial, says Sunny Bates, CEO of New York-based executive-recruitment firm Sunny Bates Associates. She estimates that 40 percent of all résumés aren’t altogether aboveboard.

And this game of employment Russian roulette is getting riskier and riskier. Almost 40 percent of human resources professionals surveyed last year by the Society for Human Resource Management reported they’ve increased the amount of time they spend checking references over the past three years.

There’s also a javascript link to a slideshow of common ways to lie on job applications.

Dishonesty in Everyday Life and its Policy Implications

The Society for Judgment and Decision Making email list tipped me off to an interesting paper from Nina Mazar and Dan Ariely from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. As the abstract explains:

Dishonest acts are all too prevalent in day-to-day life. In the current review, we examine some possible psychological causes for such dishonesty that go beyond the standard economic considerations of probability and value of external payoffs. We propose a general model of dishonest behavior that includes also internal psychological reward mechanisms for honesty and dishonesty, and we point to the implications of this model in terms of curbing dishonesty.

The paper is due to appear in the next issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (Spring 2006), but their January 2006 working paper can be downloaded for free as a pdf file via SSRN here.

New book about lying

Another new book on lying was published last month. The Truth About Lies by Andy Shea and Steve Van Aperen doesn’t seem to be available in the UK or US, but I have it on order from the publisher and may review it here in due course. (If you’ve read it, please let us all know what you thought via the comments.)

According to the publisher’s blurb:

Ranging from medieval witch-ducking to state-of-the-art truth serums, Andy Shea and Steve Van Aperen use examples from history and from modern-day celebrity cases to spin a tale about lies and lie detection through the ages. They pull apart written and spoken words to show how lies are so hard to carry off because our bodies betray us and, if you know what to look for, how easy they are to spot. The Truth About Lies provides compelling insight into why people lie — and how to make sure you don’t get taken for a ride.

And about the authors:

Andy Shea is a former London police officer turned writer and journalist. Steve Van Aperen was a […] homicide detective but is now a deceptive behaviour expert and FBI-trained polygraph examiner.

The Sydney Morning Herald (20 March) reviews the book here. The SMH discusses (in very broad terms) lying and deception as it applies to political decisions, although the book blurb suggests that it is another ‘how to’ guide to spotting liars.

The Truth About Lies
Andy Shea and Steve Van Aperen
Publisher: ABC Books
IBSN: 0733317030

The New York Times is “Looking for the Lie”

An excellent, interesting and detailed article from the New York Times this weekend about the science and practice of lie detection. The author, Robin Marantz Henig, covers many areas, including developments and problems in fMRI deception detection, ERPs and ongoing research at the DoDPI. She interviews several of the key figures in these fields, including Paul Ekman, who provides the article’s most depressing quote:

Even though Ekman has been hired to teach his technique to embassy workers and military intelligence officers — to the tune of $35,000 for a five-day workshop — his low-tech approach to lie-catching is definitely out of vogue. “After 9/11,” he said, “I contacted different federal agencies — the Defense Department, the C.I.A. — and said, ‘I think there are some things I can teach your agents that can be of help right now.”‘ But several turned him down, he said, with one person bluntly stating, “I can’t support anything unless it ends in a machine doing it.”

UPDATE (1): BrainEthics has a thoughtful commentary on this piece and on earlier reporting of the various recent “fMRI for lie detection “stories.

UPDATE (2): Another commentary here, this time from the Bioethics & Law Blog.

[tags] fMRI, nonverbal behavior, ERP, deception [/tags]