Projection in Statement Analysis: Inescapable
by Peter Hyatt
Projection in Statement Analysis is inescapable and unavoidable. Since it exists, we must deal with it. It is similar to the myth of free will: no will is ultimately "free and independent."
For example, If you asked me which I would prefer, a Lobster Dinner, or a Liver Dinner, I would reach a point to exercise my will in making this decision.
I have never tasted liver.
I have, however, tasted lobster.
Growing up, I watched Spanky make some of the most awful faces in "Our Gang Comedies" when offered liver, and to this day, I do not want to even try liver.
My decision, therefore, is impacted by outside influences, and will sway me one way or another.
You're read about how awful police sometimes score on detecting deception tests because "they think everyone is lying" and miss elements in language of veracity. (By missing such, even in guilty subjects, they miss invaluable information about the case).
It is not always like this, however.
I sometimes hear, "Oh our detective needs this training badly. He thinks everyone is truthful!", or in business,
"Our HR person must have this training. She believes everything everyone says!" as if this is a defect in character.
It is not.
Those of us who are unable to overcome our suspicion may be in this state because we have been terribly (or very) hurt in life. This is understandable.
Others, however, are like this because when they were children, they lied, as all children do, but were not corrected.
They are "life long" or "habitual" liars.
They think everyone is lying.
They are the most difficult individuals to teach Statement Analysis to, and often jump to "deception indicated" where there is none. If a statement is unreliable, it is unreliable, but we will not conclude deception unless there is more to go on.
Recall the presuppositional thinking and the process of which the analyst/reader goes through in order to:
A. Discern truth from deception
B. Obtain content
The analyst (officer, human resources professional, therapist, social worker, business owner, etc) should proceed to a statement with the presupposition:
The subject "didn't do it" and
The subject will tell me the truth, sentence by sentence.
This is not a moral exercise, but one in which a "set up" is enabled: the expected versus the unexpected in language.
Once this work has been done, and the "unexpected" "confronted" the analyst, he then will go through the analysis the second time, with the presupposition:
The subject is deceptive and "did it" but will tell me, sentence upon sentence, the truth.
This is because most deception, particularly in open statements, is accomplished by withholding key information. In a "worst case scenario", the subject will leave out that he "did it", but meanwhile will give out an abundance of information on "how he did it" if, and only if, the analyst is "listening" with trained, skilled listening.
Now, it is time for the third analysis of the same statement: by someone else checking our work.
The Analytical Interview proceeds from the analysis. This interview is based upon:
1. Open ended, legally sound questions
2. Questions based upon the wording of the answers to (1)
3. Questions based upon the analysis of the written statement
4. Questions based upon the wording of the answers (3)
5. Questions based upon collateral evidence.
It is rare that a subject will lie outright, and when it happens (far less than 10% of the time), we have something unusual (and dangerous) upon our hands.
Back to the interview and a reliable denial:
I have had subjects not realize that they were being directly accused and would have readily said, "I didn't do it" had they just been given a slight push. We call these "leaning to be cleared"; that is, we need to ask a few more questions to elicit a denial that we can conclude to be reliable.
I once had a subject who was honest and forthright. He projected that everyone else was too. He simply did not understand that he was being investigated for theft, even though he knew that there was a theft, and that all employees were being interviewed.
I threw in softball pitch after softball pitch and all he needed to do was say, "I didn't take the money."
I would then ask, "Why should I believe you?" with the hope of him answering me with "Because I told you the truth." and be done with the interview.
He didn't get it.
I finally said, "What would you write to a judge about this accusation?"
he said, "Why would I need to write to a judge about it? I didn't take the money."
Imagine if I had let it drop and not threw in a few more questions?
Those who are honest see others as honest and will have "the expected" in alignment with the principles of Statement Analysis far better than those who project their own dishonesty upon the world.
We see this in the realm of politics.
Those who have no noble motives in life cannot imagine nobility of motive in anyone else, and will always ascribe ignoble motives to others. If they have had everything given to them in life, they will ridicule those who have had to work hard to get where they have gotten in life. Those who readily deceive others, especially by withholding information, will quickly condemn others as "liars" without evidence.
This is used to make you or I feel inferior for being unable to discern that we are "obviously" being lied to.
"Oh, please! All politicians lie."
It is not so.
There are certainly those who are in politics for self-gain motives, clamoring for power and control and will lie to get what they want. These are liars. They are so, from childhood, and will lie to protect themselves, no matter what the cost is to others. It is who they are.
Broken promises are not always lies.
Some may be well meaning and will fight and lose and the lost battle will then be declared as a "lie" even though the politician did not show intent to deceive.
This projection is what we read in history books.
For example, what did Christopher Columbus do, and why did he do it?
The only way to know is to read his journal, and any writings from the period. Read it, and other historical documents, through the lens of Statement Analysis, and separate yourself from those who have an agenda and wish to make history fit their agenda.
Our words reveal us.
Hitler's words revealed him, even when deceptive, as the 'intention of deception' causes the disruption of the internal processing of words.
Lance Armstrong made many truthful statements in the midst of his unreliable denials, and leaked out much.
Michael Jackson's own denial gave linguistic indication of more victims in more parts of the world than previously known.
In a reliable denial, no matter how difficult it is in getting some to embrace it in practice, it's success rate, particularly when accompanied by, "I told you the truth" is not only a time saver, but a morale saver, a law suit saver, and most of all:
A saving of the innocent in our society.
Listen to the wording, and listen for yourself.
Instead of saying, "He did this because he believed that..." the new historians literally invent motives, according to their own projection. They assign motive to Columbus that is not only unsupported, but contrary to what Columbus revealed in his journal. Having said this, I love to read history with the lens of Statement Analysis, looking for missing information, deception and truth.
But if one has no honorable motives, one will not see honor anywhere.
If one is a liar from childhood, one will be very poor at discerning deception, thinking that everyone is lying all the time and this leads to...
Kevin Fox, father of murdered Riley, who suffered because of the failure of detectives and the state attorney to hear, "I didn't kill my daughter", no matter how many times Kevin Fox said it. Fox suffered the loss of his daughter, and then the loss of his freedom. The police department suffered from the bad reputation and the millions they paid out in damages.
It was lose-lose.
Projection is inescapable in analysis. Therefore, better for truth seekers to use it, carefully, in analysis.
First, Presuppose that the subject is telling the truth, 100% and did not do it.
Now do your analysis and see if there is a flow that agrees with your presupposition.
Next, Presuppose that the subject did it, but is still, line by line 100% truthful and will guide you; only that he has withheld the information that he did it.
Third, go over your findings with another.
Projection is inescapable, therefore, we approach it from a point of self honesty, which is seen not only in our first two presuppositions, but in our third, allowing another to view our analysis and ask:
Did we stay in principle?
Did we interject ourselves into the analysis?
Whether it be due to prejudice over sports, religion, or politics, the principles applied evenly can deal, head on, with our own thoughts. When one says, "I probably shouldn't investigate this; I have some personal animosity about what this guy is accused of doing and..." I find it best to work with this particular investigator. Why? Because his emotional intelligence and "self honesty" is evident, even in his caution. De-briefing after the interview, or even after the initial analysis can help.
Honest people do the best work. By presupposing that others are honest, in society, they get taken, sometimes pretty badly, too, but in analysis, they set up the perfect "confrontation" because they presuppose truth and when they do not hear it, they feel "awkward" and know that "something is not right" in the text.
The suspicious struggle more so.
Some are, as previously noted, suspicious because they are not truthful and do not tell the truth. For these, the "expected" in analysis will not be honest, and they will struggle to clear the innocent. As other articles have noted, when you have a fabricator of reality in your department or your business, you have lots of other problems on your hands and you should take steps to mitigate the impact upon yourself, co workers, business, and department's liability. This is for many other articles.
Others are suspicious because they have been acutely wounded by deception, but because they recognize this, the training can overcome the issues.
When they remain aware of this bias, they can do well, particularly with reminders to "stay within principle" and with reminders that "math does not lie" and "math does not care about...."
Truth is timeless and is not impacted by the passage of time, culture, external forces, nor anything else, if, indeed, it is truth, to begin with.
Getting to the truth and discerning deception is hard work. If it was not so, everyone would do it. Those who do must approach it in an open-minded fashion as well as in a sober-minded demeanor which accepts incomplete puzzles within the quest to get to the truth.
We must remain open, truthful with ourselves first, and then with others, in order to properly do this work.
I will not accept a dinner invitation for liver and...
If Alex Rodriquez had been a New York Met, I still might have found him deceptive indicated.