Friday, December 11, 2015
Faith, Language and Lie Detection
How does the topic of faith impact language?
"...and as he grabbed me I just prayed 'Lord help me' and ..."
A verbal interview in an assault case produced this sentence. As the Interviewer listened, he was convinced of the pain he was hearing in the woman's voice.
I had said that the pain is real, and the assault is real, but she's lying.
...and as he grabbed me I just prayed 'Lord help me' and..."
In the interview she produced sensory description which is something that can signal that it was experienced but exactly when it was experienced...years ago, or today, as the crime is being alleged, is not answered.
In fact, in this interview, I believed that not only was she lying about what happened now within a criminal investigation, but she is truthfully reporting what happened to her years ago.
If one can picture a system of (+) and (-) as an interview 'goes by' audibly, this can help.
It is sometimes challenging to follow the formula for reliability at first, but with practice that is specifically done with audio and then transcripts, the twain do eventually meet.
As the audible goes by, each signal of reliability is given a mark on the notebook that shows a (+) and each signal of sensitivity is given a (-) and when there is a near balance of the two, such as
It is something that must be further explored because there is enough signals that memory is at play, but there are also enough signals that deception is at play, as well.
This is where someone is lying but using experiential memory to do so. It is something to specifically train for.
I said that this particular allegation will lead to a failed polygraph in spite of the strong sensory description and affect of the subject during the entire interview.
I watched the video of the interview.
In listening to the subject, I too heard the pain coming from her and the accurate description of an assault, but I did not hear her connect the assault with the accused.
I also noted "Divinity" in a statement.
"Divinity" within the interview is a red flag for deception and beneath it is a desire to persuade someone, hoping that the Interviewer, too, will be a person of faith. The need to call for Divine approval, itself, is a weakness.
The signal in the statement above shows that this event had been long processed in the brain and the fear of it something that was reflected in the voice.
She failed the polygraph.
It is not so much that a person uses some form of Divinity in a statement but the context of the statement, audible or written that is key.
This was a police investigation of a crime.
Years ago in a seminar for investigators I warned them of "the I Effect", which was that they would, as we progress, fall in love with Statement Analysis but eventually will come upon a topic where they will be tempted to say,
"I think Statement Analysis is great, but I..." as they come upon a principal they struggle with.
Where is this often found?
a. Politics. This is where the person's prejudice overrules reason. They have seen the analysis principles applied evenly in case after case, but once applied to a political figure they are emotionally attached to (or partisan), the shut down takes place.
In comments, it is predictable. "I came here for murder not politics..." instead of answering the analysis. "Peter has just lost all credibility..." also offered instead of an answer to analysis. A weak, "if he would just analyze _______, I would know he is not being partial..."
b. Sports figure. This is not as frequent and is generally male orientated.
c. Music figure. This is mostly female and the age is key. I found that female investigators who were 15 years old when Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was released, recoiled at his statements revealing pedophilia.
d. Familiar relations. "When someone says 'I love you' to their children, it is often a signal of a poor relationship and you should explore it..."
One female investigator made a very bold declaration against this.
I explained further: "We all say 'I love you' to our children when we put them to bed, but few of us would feel the need to tell others, especially in an investigation that they love their children."
She bristled even more. Up shot her hand:
"I feel it is important that someone know I love my daughter and I would include it in a statement. "
Weeks later, she was the subject of a child abuse allegation. Interesting also is that when this statement was made, her superior was present and had known of the explosive temper with her child.
This is an interesting one.
If the subject says "I swear to God" or anything similar, it is a very strong signal that the subject is a liar who may be telling the truth now, but normally does not, or he may be lying now, but in either case, he is not someone known for truth. It is a need to have someone or something far above us to accredit us that the weakness shows.
It is like someone giving pedantic advice anonymously. It is not suggestive but paternal and the need to qualify it is that the person then gives his or her "qualifications" in defense.
The first signal that something was wrong is that a person of qualification does not feel the need to browbeat nor lecture in a pedantic manner. The confidence of their experience allows for them to suggest or offer for consideration.
The second signal is the rush to "prove" one's qualifications, which itself, reveals weakness. Some may offer qualifications upon challenge, but when it follows the 'demand of acceptance' it is weak. A great example of this is found in the ex- FBI agent's defense of Amanda Knox in which he used "hyperbole on steroids" and revealed his own bizarre obsession which eventually led to losing his job. "Every investigation rule followed by every investigator in the world by everyone who knows...and I have investigated thousands of murders and I have...." The need to persuade was, perhaps, the strongest I have ever seen in a professional.
Back to Divinity.
I used the "Swear to God" as a generalization and a signal to be on high alert for deception. This is in any form of either swearing ("I swear on my mother's grave" or the use of Divinity, "as God as my witness...")
It did not take long.
I had written "The I Effect" across the blackboard, very high, prepared to point to it, when one feels such temptation.
An investigator said, "I think Statement Analysis great and I am learning a lot but..."
Here we go:
"My sister and me, when we were growing up we had this rule that if we said to one another that we swore to God, we were not allowed to lie! It was a rule and even today we keep it!"
There was an awkward silence at first, but soon laughter and Heather could not contain herself:
"You just proved the principle!"
The audience burst out laughing.
She had just confessed that she and her sister normally did lie to each other and the lying, as the norm, came to an end when the words "Swear to God" entered the language!
What stood out to me, however, was not the marvelous example of proving the principle and driving it home for investigators, but it was the investigator herself. This was a very sad reality for me, but now something I have come to accept.
She emotionally shut down and was 'gone' for the remainder of the seminar.
The science of lie detection, and all the hard work it takes, and the marvelous results it produces, was lost to her.
In investigations, all one had to do was call upon Divinity, in any form, as a witness in an oath, and the investigation would come to a screeching halt.
She missed out on so much learning and time saving techniques of lie detection that have extreme results, all due to the emotional shut down that took place.
It is not that we pray, nor that we call out to God, or that we have faith:
It is the need to appeal outside of ourselves, especially in any language of Divinity that shows the weakness.
Faith is a natural part of language, which is why the context is so important.
"Statement Analysis is really great but I find..."
Generalizations are based upon statistics and norms. There are always exceptions.
Principles are not based upon exceptions. When we have a signal of sensitivity, we explore it. It may not be conclusive for either veracity or deception, but we will explore it to learn more.
Following this overall strategy not only produces results, but is both time saving and energy saving, while maintaining the civil rights of all interviewees.