Lie Detection Fallacies and Facts

By Dustin Shaw

The website of the American Psychological Association or APA debunks many common myths about lie detection. How we wish that it is easy to find reliable those results of polygraph test questions or a lie detector machine. After all, they are the common standards for lie detection. But they aren't.

An example of a lie detection fallacy is the one involving shame. Even some micro-expressions that are widely touted to denote "shame" are not accurate, because shame in humans is a complex emotion; it cannot be relegated to a sum of a combination of different micro-expressions.

When detecting deception, the most important things to look for when it comes to facial cues are the increase in the size of the pupil and the pressing of the lips. The blinking and the posture are not necessarily accurat


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e clues to deception. Blinking and relaxed postures can be controlled or faked by many people; physical factors even contribute to them and these factors have nothing to do with the biomechanics of lying.

Psychologists have been cataloguing lying clues for many years. They have found out that these two factors stand out. The pupil size increase is a powerful indicator of concentration and tension. The lip pressing is more likely to occur for liars than for those who tell the truth.

Paul Ekman, the world's most famous expert for micro-expressions training and interpretation and whose life and achievements have inspired the TV series, Lie to Me, infers that signs of emotion in people do not necessarily equate to guilt. Even when innocent, people can display strong emotions especially when interrogated or accused of something.

Another strong indicator to lying is the one that is based on linguistics. Written and verbal contextual clues are quite reliable indicators. There are three important details to look for when judging verbal and written content for deception. One, there are few first-person pronouns; statements of ownerships are subconsciously difficult to say when we lie. Two, there are many words that denote negative emotion; words like hate, sad, or worthless are common in sentences that are untruthful. Finally, exclusionary words such as nor, but, or except are few and far between; complexity is hard to concoct for someone who is telling a lie.

Use your discretion and common sense when attempting to detect dishonesty in people. Most importantly, understand and apply the complex principles of lie detection. They are discussed in detail in the well-researched and carefully tested Detect Deceit.