Lying Myths Debunked -- Lies About Lying; What Is Lying Behavior?
Stereotypical Lying Information Has Been Proved Incorrect
I have heard and read about many "popular myths" regarding how to tell someone is lying for many years and want to share the information that many of these methods are inaccurate.
Some "Pop Psychology" magazines and some Human-Resources-type training seminars promote these inaccuracies. People that believe them and attempt to apply them often meet with broken relationships, angry friends, coworkers, and bosses; job loss, and even legal penalties.
Supervisors have been successfully sued for applying this misinformation.
Patty Inglish, MS. Preventive Medicine; Member, American Psychological Association. Posted online for the first time here on May 8, 2008.
For instance, my town recently experienced a case in which a young professional was not hired for a job, because during the employment interview, he looked up to the right. The interviewer possessed a high school diploma, but no additional school or training, and had attended one of these seminars about body language at the behest of the employer. What was the outcome of this case? -- The interviewer was fired and the interviewer and the company were both successfully sued. The young professional was hired elsewhere and has been active building a productive career. By the way, the company suffered a business decline in light of the news and word-of-mouth buzz about this event as well.
Be careful of what you believe and of who provides you with the information.
These facts are all based on 20 years of working as a therapist among diverse populations of all ages, races, incomes, and nationalities; in education among individuals that suffer Severe Mental Disorders (SMDs) and among at-risk as well as gifted youth, and involvement in research in Criminology.
Lying - Right or Wrong?
Lying - Right or Left?
Recent crime novels of the last decades have picked up on the inaccuracies of determining truth-telling from lying and even Fox News employs Body Language Specialist to add to their programs' ratings.
Some body language interpretations are accurate, others are accurate only other certain conditions, and others are inaccurate. This includes facial expressions and sweating as well.
For instance - Hillary Clinton appeared on Bill O'Reilly's program and sat in a chair uncomfortably, holding her hands and wrists together down to one side fo her knees. One interpretation is that she was being reserved, holding somewhat back, and protecting herself and her image and views. Another is that she was a bit too large and heavy for the straight-back-type chair and was trying to hold herself together on it. My opinion is to opt for Occam's Razor and the simplest explanation. I agree with the interpreter that Hillary's smile was not always real.
Individual differences is a term that usually refers to individual people to whom the rules of social sciences and medicine or what-have-you do not apply. However, it seems that there are more and more individual differences to the point where rules - especially inaccurate rules - do not apply at all.
LEFT BRAIN, RIGHT BRAIN
It has been purported that looking up to the left is lying because it shows access to the right brain (creativity), while looking up to the right shows recall , because it indicates access to the left brain (logic and memory). This is wrong for a number of reason, including:
1) Females have been attributed with being more naturally creative than men. IN truth, they look up to the left and right when visualizing, as do men. But, their creativity is used against them and they are called liars for ever looking up to the left.
2) Most people have some visual-spatial intelligence -- If not, they might have less depth-perception. Regardless, i using visual-spatial abilities, one looks up to either side or out to a distance. Some people call this lying, and they are wrong, because they do not know any better. In testing hundreds of adult education students over 11 years, I found that both males and females had significant visual-spatial abilities.
3) Among the Japanese peoples, a language center developed on BOTH sides of the brain, not just the right brain. They can look up in either direction when thinking. OK, how about other Asians? How about Native Americans, who are related to Asians? How about Bi-racial folks that have Asian or Native American DNA and share behavior patterns?
4) Many people are visual learners and not auditory (by ear) learners.. While learning or while not learning, visual learners will look up to either side and out to a far or middle distance.
5) There is the matter of Social IQ or Emotional IQ. Some indivivuals of higher academic IQ scores appear rude, because they physically look past a conversation partner during a conversation - for a number of reasons, including mental multitasking,
6) Restaurant and some factory managers and others of some years experience do not maintain a steady eye-to-eye contact during a conversation, having been conditioned to watch a whole building of operations constantly and all at once. After a while, this cannot be switched off during conversations.
7) Autism Spectrum Disorders (we are finding increasing numbers of them in the USA among children and adults), including Asperger's, operate with a condition of inconsistent eye contact. It's neurological, it's not lying. Neurological disorders related to the Autism Spectrum may have the same component. This might include ADD/ADHD, Tourette's, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, and others -- Some of these could be mild enough not to even be diagnosed, but be the source of the eye contact or "looking." It may be neurological, and it may or may not be lying.
8) INCREASINGLY, eye contact in this society is viewed as a challenge. Children and adults are bring taught NOT to make eye contact in the 21st century in order to avoid a confrontation, a fight, and perhaps a knife cut or gunshot.
There are many more exceptions to the inaccurate rules of the stereotypical and incorrect ways of "telling how someone is lying."
Also remember that Lie Detector results are inadmissible in court. They cannot be accepted as accurate.
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 restricts an employer's use of a lie detector to determine honesty or dishonesty, save for suspected theft or sabotage.
While we may wish that there were some party tricks that would tell us who is lying and who is not, there are not any. A Personality Profile like the long Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is a good starting place, but no single test can reveal with 100% accuracy who tends toward lying or any other of the dimensions measured by the exam. Multiple test results from different instruments (with agreeing results), along with experience with the subject would more likely reveal a trend toward truth-telling or lying.
For all of the rest of the Body Language discipline - some of it is accurate, the rest is to sell books and TV viewership.
Dalhousie University (2008, April 24). Lying? The Face Betrays Deceiver's True Emotions, But In Unexpected Ways. ScienceDaily.
...by Dr. Stephen Porter at the Forensic Psychology Lab at Dalhousie University
In 2008, Stephen Porter and Leanne ten Brinke of the Forensic Psychology Lab at Dalhousie University, Canada published their findings of the above research study in Psychological Science. It was titled Reading Between the Lies: Identifying Concealed and Falsified Emotions in Universal Facial Expressions. It created an uproar among those that had accepted previously-held notions about lying and truth-telling that revealed themselves to be out-dated, inaccurate, and false. After the initial uproar, much more interest was generated in this study, and in others across the US that found similar outcomes and facts.
- American College of Gastroenterology (2005, October 31). New Study Suggests The Stomach -- Not The Heart -- Offers Greater Lie Detection Accuracy.
- Economic & Social Research Council (2007, June 8). New Interview Technique Could Help Police Spot Deception. ScienceDaily. [Stereoptypical methods don't work]
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2007, February 19). A Good Lie Detector Is Hard To Find: 'Spin' And Fact Omission Leave No Neuro-trace. ScienceDaily.
- University of Alberta (2007, April 5). Culture Is Key To Interpreting Facial Emotions. ScienceDaily.
- American Academy of Neurology (2005, November 22). In Autism And Related Disorders, Recognizing Emotion Is Different Than Identity. ScienceDaily.
Generally, looking to the upper right or upper left, failure to make steady eye contact, "shiftiness," and sweat do not indicate lying per se. Do not be mislead and fooled by "pop psychology" that is inherently incorrect.
What actually is an indicator of a lie is the event in which the facial "mask" of a person being interrogated or even that of someone having a casual conversation, will change briefly from time to time to reveal their true emotions.
The held-back emotions that cracked through the mask in Porter's and other studies were:
In the Porter study, which included many subjects and proved to be statiscally significant in its findings, adults looked at pictures that would normally inspire definte emotions. They were told to pick either a real or feigned emotion and to display it on their faces as they looked at each card (they could do whatever they liked with their choices on each card).
Not a single person on the research team could accurately determine the emotions the human subjects displayed that were real or fake.
It seems that Charles Darwin was correct in 1872, when he stated and wrote that emotions cannot be hidden definitely or forever on the face, especially anger, disgust, and fear.
How do you tell when someone is lying?
Watch for a very quick change to another emotion on a person;s face, and ask them questions about what they were feeling and why.
Forensics Science Degrees
High School Forensics Team Adventures
© 2008 Patty Inglish
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