"Dabbling in Lie Detection" did not prove to be a popular article if page views is any indication.
It did, however, confirm itself, in the short sample statement quiz where readers found deception where none was present and not only misapplied principle, but even 'invented' some new ones.
I should have described Formal Training as more than just introductory to include a breadth of principles, with strong challenges, and the requisite follow up that is necessary.
Recently, I referenced the television show, "Lie To Me" which caused a few negative responses. In spite of its success, and with regard to the books sales from Dr. Ekman:
There is no micro-expression training that has proven useful in detecting deception.
Ekman, himself reveals this with his own words and actions. He will not declare "truth or deception" on any statement, transcript, or even a video of an interview that he does not conduct, which is ironic given his research on micro expressions through the use of video, pause and slow motion.
It is the very essence of his system so having the video and transcript of an interview, with pause, slow motion, and ability to zoom in on the face, should fulfill all that he has written and trained others for yet it is not so.
I have mentioned what it means to have your company or your department judging analysis based upon your work, and in both business and in criminal investigation, that which is "on the line" can include:
A subject being arrested.
A subject losing his or her job.
False accusation and subsequent law suit.
Hiring of thieves.
The list of potential consequences is lengthy. It is one thing to have an opinion expressed anonymously on line, and quite another when your conclusion is going to impact lives, departments and companies, as well as your own reputation which is on the line.
For Ekman, it is actually his own claim is that his training is fruitless.
The claim of Statement Analysis is that through study and application, the same basic results should be obtained from an analyst in California, the same as in New York, and everywhere in between. The difference in analysis should not be in "truth or deception" but in the ability to glean content, profile, and build an interview strategy. Depth increases with time and experience, but the initial element of coming to a conclusions of "truth or deception" should be made.
Let's look at the sample statement and touch upon principle. We do not need to go deeply into the sample. There are things you must know:
1. Most deception (more than 90%) is via withheld information meaning that a deceptive statement can be 100% truthful sentence by sentence so that even if "he did it", the subject may still guide us to the truth as to how he did it, and the facts of the case (content).
2. With this in mind, to catch a liar, the liar must force us to conclude deception.
Our presupposition is always the same:
The subject didn't do it, and is 100% truthful.
This is not a moral or ethical stance, but one in which we set up a place for the subject to convince us that his is lying. We must be so prepared for him to be truthful, that we must find ourselves confronted by that which is either missing and should have been there, or by words used that are so very unexpected, that we are 'forced' to think differently than what we started with.
The subject must talk you into changing your opinion. The subject must prove to you he is deceptive.
3. Regarding consequence: You cannot be wrong. Being wrong is dangerous and can result in a cascade of trouble. If you do not know, "inconclusive" is better than being wrong. You cannot (if you are good at this) bear the thought that your work caused someone to lose his job, or be falsely arrested. This must tear you up inside.
** If you need a powerful microscope to pick up the tiniest of all points within a statement to conclude deception, you are not looking at deception.
"...well it was like this. We went to his parents' house for dinner and he had a six pack by himself so I drove instead. While we were on our way to the mall, he told me to stop at the Bloom to buy more beer but I told him no he had enough but this only got him angry more. He punched me on the side of my head. I tried to steer the car but I almost lost control. I told him that he was mental and unless he gets help I was done. He put his gun to my head and told me if I did not stop talking he would shoot me. I said we are driving so you die too. He said try me and he didn't care. I said we could talk it through and he told me he hated me and that he wasn't fooling around and to shut up..."
1. He punched me on the side of my head. This is an example of a reliable sentence. Use, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky" as your reminder. This sentence, alone, can be a constant guide.
With in it we have a standard for truth and lots of lessons:
1. The Pronoun "I"
"I" It began with the pronoun "I", which is a good beginning, as the subject is wiling to put himself, psychologically, into the sentence. By itself, it is not enough, but it is a good start.
2. The Past Tense Verb
"did not" or "didn't" is a good, past tense reference. Reid suggests that "didn't" is stronger, since it is casual, but this is not supported by the research: both work just as well. "Didn't" may have an element of relaxation, and "did not" may have more emphasis to it (the subject may feel he or she is not being believed) but statistically, they are identical. Both are reliable and no differentiation should be made.
"Sexual relations" includes the topic of sex which for the analyst means:
a. You must, each and every time, get the subject's own definition of any and every reference to sex. The subjective dictionary of the topic of sex is very wide. If you interpret what any term means you risk being wrong. You may be certain in some term or another, but experience will teach you that no topic has wider variance
b. Sex has a language all its own, and sexual abuse victims can experience such severe post trauma that the language can change. Disassociation, itself, can mirror passivity in language so much so, that without instruction, deception could be falsely indicated.
c. Perseveration can be heard not only in the language of mentally retarded victims, or adults with autism, but also of those who may not have developmental disability, but may struggle to separate what took place in childhood, with what took place as claimed. This means that the analyst must not only decide if the sexual activity was consensual or an assault, but decide: did it happen here and now, as claimed, or did it happen years ago? William Kennedy Smith case is a good example of this.
In our seminars and studies, an entire chapter, alone, is dedicated to the language of women who were sexually abused in childhood.
d. Child abuse victims. Grooming perpetrators will regularly change language to confuse investigators and keep a special "code" between himself and his victims. "Ice cream cones" and "popsicles" and other seemingly innocuous terms may be a child's way of describing sex because this is what she was taught by the perp.
In this case, we know that President Clinton had coached Monica Lewinsky telling her that "sexual relations" is only "intercourse" (in his subjective dictionary) and if true, he would have passed his polygraph.
Every polygrapher should memorize this sentence.
4. "with" is found between people, indicating distance. The subject, Clinton, was distancing himself from Monica Lewinsky. Whenever "we" is found between people, look for distance.
5. "that" is another word of distancing, and in this sentence, it is the second signal that Clinton wanted to gain psychological distance from Lewinsky.
6. "woman" is a gender specific term. He did not use "person" or "lady" but "woman." It is interesting to note how many times he used the word "person" when speaking of Hillary, his wife, instead of "woman." This word can be used to establish pattern from subjects who speak a lot.
7. "Ms. Lewinsky": the pronoun "I" and "Ms. Lewinsky" could not be further apart and this actual distance represents the powerful psychological distance between them, according to Clinton. We also note that "Ms. Lewinsky" is not "my intern, Monica Lewinsky", or anything similar, which relates to our teaching on social introductions.
As you can see, this one sentence is very useful for instruction and should be memorized (which cannot be terribly challenging) and used as a sample for "reliability."
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky"
Verb tense: past tense. Good.
Additional language: none
There is nothing in this sentence to suggest deception. We must, therefore, be convinced that deception is present and there is nothing here to convince us.
He punched me on the side of my head.
Verb tense: past tense.
Additional language: none
It is short and passes the reliability test.
There is nothing within this sentence that suggests deception. We must be "talked into" deception and "talked out of" reliability.
"...well it was like this. We went to his parents' house for dinner and he had a six pack by himself so I drove instead. While we were on our way to the mall, he told me to stop at the Bloom to buy more beer but I told him no he had enough but this only got him angry more. He punched me on the side of my head. I tried to steer the car but I almost lost control.
"tried" attempted and failed. This failure almost led to almost a loss of control.
Next, think of the communicative language.
"Said" is conversational or mildly informative while "Told" can be stronger, argumentative, authoritative, etc. During tension or commands, "told" should be used.
The communicative language should be past tense.
I told him that he was mental and unless he gets help I was done.
This is a threat to break up unless he gets help. "Told", therefore, is appropriately used. Deception means that the person has a need to convince us and may not be working from experiential memory which sometimes shows itself in inappropriate communicative language.
He put his gun to my head
"He puts" would be present tense. "He put" is past tense. That no gun is introduced suggests that having a gun is probably common, culturally, perhaps a hunting family. Is there anything here that talks out out of belief?
and told me if I did not stop talking he would shoot me.
"Told" here is appropriate for the tension of the exchange.
I saw some flag "talking" as not fitting, but I thought, "Hmm, one of them may be verbose, or "quite a chatty cathy" --this also suggested something else to me: this may not be the first time he has done this, and she is not really afraid of him. Make certain to consider this as we progress:
I said we are driving so you die too.
"we" has entered the language after the assault. This tells me that she does not want to break up in spite of what has happened. There is still unity in her language. I will see if this continues.
Also, she talked about death. As an investigator or a mental health professional (including social worker) we need to explore her history, including possibly growing up with domestic violence, acutely low self esteem (the real thing, not the nonsense you hear of today, but actually one who sees herself in such a terribly low view, that she is willing to accept brutal treatment). She may have depression issues and if so, I need to explore for possible reaction to SSRI and possible substance abuse, self medication, etc. Remember: lots of alcohol and she had to drive here. They've done this before.
(I just wrote that you do not need to go deeply but...)
He said try me and he didn't care. I said we could talk it through
Here we have a change from "told" to "said", and the signal is softer language.
"Try me" tells us that she did not believe the threat. That he "said" it, and not "told" her it, matches "not caring" which could be despair, depression, resignation, rather than rage and one out of control.
"I said", confirms the softer tone of this, which is what produced:
"we" here, as being appropriately placed.
She still sees them as "we", that is, possible for staying together. She did not fear him which is confirmed by the need to say "try me." This portion is not so much argumentative but things have quieted down at this point. The language is consistent.
"try me" might have even been in a whisper or lowered voice.
She "said" (softer) that "we" (unity) could "talk it through" but this is about to be met with dramatic change:
and he told me
Now "told" returns and this means something harsher should be here if this is true (consistent). So since they had a moment of quieter talk, what came out of his mouth that caused the change from "said" to "told"?
he hated me
That'll do it. That'll change language. "hate" is harsh with ugly finality to it.
He is not kidding, and he is resolved. By needing to reminder her that he was not kidding tells us that he sensed that she was not afraid and not taking him seriously enough for him;
and that he wasn't fooling around and to shut up..."
It gets ugly....stop talking has been met with hatred with the elevated "shut up" as things got worse.
There is nothing within the statement to even suggest deception.
Rape is a unique topic.
When the word "we" enters after the rape, it is a signal that no rape took place.
Rape is a unique form of criminal assault, with life long consequences to the victim, who does not see herself "unified" with the rapist. We do not apply this principle of the pronoun "we" to any other topic.
Rape is both violent and sexual. It targets a woman where her womanhood exists, in her most vulnerable, tender portion of her body, with unwanted intrusion and violence. There is no getting "closer" than this. There is no more "up close and personal" than this: it is to, quite literally "enter" the woman's body and to enter her being in the most intrusive, unwanted and violent way. Little wonder that victims often report never feeling completely safe again.
I have written much about sexual abuse and its impact on language, but cover it in depth in training; far more than short blog entries.
In short, the "we" that entered this statement after the assault and gun show us that the subject did not want the relationship to end and did not fear for her life, in such case where the "fight or flight" hormone surges, impacting her language. An argument might be made that she was suicidal, and this would be possible (part of the language) but we know she was not afraid, hinted by her wording, but confirmed in his wording.
There was nothing here to indicate deception.
Formal training followed by specific application, with work being checked, question and answer, and a strong commitment to practice is prescribed for learning lie detection.
The system of analysis employed here developed over many decades of research in the United States, Germany, Israel as well as other nations. Polygraph results have been compared to written statements, just as I was able to compare my written interview with psychological evaluations, in the hundreds, which allowed for verification, just as polygraphs can as well.
For information on formal training please go to HYATT ANALYSIS
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