6. Your body wants to confess
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- Black Book of Lie Detection
“I am not smart enough to lie.” – Ronald Regan
Whilst a person has a relatively high degree of control over what they say, their body language will tell an observer many things, without them realizing or intending this to happen. Very few people are conscious of the messages they continually send out through their body language and even fewer know how to control these messages.
Children will frequently use hand to face / hand to mouth gestures when they tell a lie. As they grow up the use of the hand gestures becomes less frequent and pronounced.
Body language gives away the emotions we are experiencing. The ability to read body language is therefore a powerful tool for detecting deception. When people are lying they usually feel some discomfort or stress which manifests itself through body cues.
The most important movements and gestures to watch are those given at the time of the critical questions being asked. Bear in mind that behaviors which manifest themselves during questioning, may simply be an innocent person's reaction to the stress of being questioned; particularly if they have a lot to lose if disbelieved.
Ultimately, you will have to make a judgment, looking at behavioral indicators along with eye cues, verbal cues and the consistency and credibility of the answers given. You will observe more nonverbal deception cues if you and the suspect talk whilst standing. The more clusters of deception indicators you are able to observe, the more likely it is that your suspect is lying.
The following behaviors when demonstrated in response to lie probing questions are consistent, but not by themselves, determinative of deception.
- The suspect nods or shakes their head in a manner inconsistent with the answer they have given i.e. when asked whether they stole the handbag the suspect says `no' but shakes his head up and down in an affirmative manner. As remarkable as this may seem, it is not uncommon for people to give a physical indication that is the complete opposite to their verbal answer. The physical indication is usually the truthful answer.
- The suspect rubs their forehead or strokes the back of their neck with their hand.
- Delayed nodding in support of an answer they have just given. When people are telling the truth they will nod their head simultaneously with the statement they are making. When they are lying, there is often a delay between the statement and their head nodding in support.
- Perspiring, trembling and blushing.
- Gulping or finding it difficult to swallow.
- Touching their nose. Hirsch and Wolfe analyzed Bill Clinton's testimony to the Grand Jury over the Monica Lewinsky affair. They observed that when he was believed to be lying, he touched his nose once every 4 minutes reaching a total of 26 times. However, during the straight forward parts of his evidence, he rarely touched his nose.
- Placing of the hand near or over their mouth.
- Rubbing the eye. This trait appears more in men than women.
- Fidgeting, drumming fingers or rearranging themselves.
- The suspect uses less emphasis when speaking. When people are speaking the truth, they naturally use physical gestures to support their verbal statements. Their eyes wide, they lean forward towards you, raise their eyebrows, wave their arms and gesture with their hands. If you notice that your suspect is using less emphasis than normal when answering key questions, this is indicative that they do not believe what they are saying.
- Increased shuffling or moving of feet. This is more noticeable if you are both standing. When feeling emotional discomfort as a result of questioning, people tend to move their feet about.
- Avoiding physical contact. When people lie, they will try to avoid physical contact with the person they are lying to. This will be more apparent if the two parties are in a close relationship and normally engage in physical contact when talking.
- Placing objects between you and them when being questioned. When lying, people will often place objects between you and themselves in an attempt to create a barrier. They are usually not even conscious that they are doing this. If you are sitting at a table across from each other, you may be onto something if the suspect starts to place pens, books, cups and bags between you both.
Table of Contents
- We all want to be lie detectors
- Types of liars and degrees of lying
- You need to be cautious
- Factors influencing detection accuracy
- Setting the scene
- Your body wants to confess
- Eye think you are lying to me
- Time to face the truth
- Listen like a lawyer
- Download the PDF