Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Word "Very" In Statement Analysis

It's Very Cold...
The word "very" in Statement Analysis indicates a comparison that may or may not have a reference point, and invites a follow up question.

When there are multiple uses of the word "very", weakness may become evident, as a need to persuade comes into play.  By itself, it indicates an increase of sorts, making sensitive that which is modifies.

Sensitivity, itself, does not mean deception.

"I am happily married" is a straight forward sentence that indicates:

1.  The subject uses the pronoun "I" connecting himself to the sentence;
2.  The subject uses the present tense "am" which speaks to 'now', but not yesterday.
3.  The subject feels no need to qualify, or expand, in any way, his happiness.

It is a strong sentence.

"I am very happily married" tells a story.  The happiness is "sensitive" to the subject, and without context, we would need to ask questions to learn more.  It does not indicate weakness, nor deception.

Context is key.

The subject is addressing marriage.

1.  The happiness is sensitive.
2.  Why is it sensitive?
a.  Because the subject was previously unhappy?
b.  Because the subject is happier than he expected to be?
c.  Because the subject is comparing his marriage to some around him?

Somewhere in the story, the subject is comparing his happiness to another happiness, hence, the sensitivity.  To say that the sensitivity indicates deception is wrong.

Next, the word "very" in different contextual applications.

When it is personal, it is easier to discern than when the application is external.

"I am very tired" indicates that the fatigue is personal, and it is being compared to a different fatigue or level of tiredness.

"We are running  a very strong campaign" moves from the personal, "I" to the plural "we", brining in not only a comparison of sorts, but at least one other subject.

"It is a very strong business" now moves to a business yet still is comparison in nature.  Is the strength being compared to a previous state?  Is the strength being compared to another company?

We learn the answer either through a larger context (continuing to analyze the rest of the statement) or through follow up questions.

When I hear "very" in an interview, I note it for follow up questions, seeking to learn the element of comparison.

Comparison exists, however.

In Statement Analysis, I sometimes will note:

"This is a very sensitive sentence to the subject" indicating that the reader should know that there is an increase in sensitivity from the norm.

This increase may be due to:

a.  deception
b.  higher element of the presence of emotions
c.  priority status higher than other sentences
d.  unknown

In analysis, the use of "very" is to cause the reader to compare prior mentions of sensitivity to this particular one.

What of the over-use of the word "very" in analysis?

"I am very very very happily married" is cartoon like, used to make a point, which is why I follow up with a joke, "Need the number of a good divorce attorney?" to highlight the weakness in the assertion.

This should not, however, be confused with the single use of the word "very", as comparison, but should cause the reader to consider the continual use of the word "very" repeatedly in a statement, though not limited to a single sentence.

Here is where the reasoning powers and skills of a reader/analyst must enter.

What is the context?

Is the context something personal?

Is the context something utterly unnecessary?

"I really want my daughter back" uses "really", which is similar to the word "very" yet is something that instinctively raises eyebrows.

Who wouldn't want her back?
Who would have a need to emphasize wanting her back?
Have you been accused of not wanting her back?

Sometimes in a statement that is a paragraph or more in length, we may find the word "very" used a lot.  This also has the "eyebrow" effect:  it sounds strange.

Need to Persuade

I have a need to persuade often.

My analysis report needs to persuade, for example, a district attorney to issue an arrest warrant.

In an article, I would like readers to believe what I am writing.

When I approach a business about training, I have a need to persuade them that liars will cost them:

a.  undo unemployment claims
b.  ill will among employees
c.  payouts on illicit and fraudulent complaints
d.  theft losses
e.  reputation losses

and so on.

I sometimes will run down a quick stat check, even though people generally realize that liars are trouble.  The resistance comes to the surface quickly:

the honest person knows that everyone of us has told a lie, especially about being late for work, or some other low-impact lie.

I then must move to the place of defining a deceptive person, rather than a person who lied, and later learns from his mistake and comes clean.

The truthful sometimes struggle with this.  This struggle, itself, is well known through out history, with even Solomon, so "very" long ago, observing that to the pure all things are pure, but...

to the liar, projection of lying is everywhere.  More on this in a follow up article.

Back to the word "very."

When one sees "very" as deception, rather than comparison, it reveals an error and a lack of understanding, but it may reveal more.

Is the error quickly remedied?

Or, does the subject "dig in his heels" and insist?

The attitude towards analysis goes a long way in telling us if one will have success or not.  Not having success, at best, means 'forgetting' the skill and returning to dulled listening.  At worst?  The liar uses principles to hammer down others.

When you confront the word "very", note carefully the context, and think, immediately: "comparison" and ask yourself:

Is what the subject is comparing to important enough for me to follow up upon?

If it is used in an assertion that shows the subject wants to be believed, the word "very" (or similar words) is now something critical:  we must learn.

If the topic is personal, we move to context:

Is this a domestic assault?  Or worse, a domestic homicide?  Suddenly, "very", in a personal connection to the victim, becomes critical.

Context is key to uncovering the sensitivity of the word "very" in all cases.

Clinical use:

"I am very depressed"

If this patient has been treated for depression in the past, the word "very", which indicates comparison, may now be a cry for help.

Is it a cry for help?
It is a real cry for help?
It is a very real cry for help?

Let's say that the patient has been treated for depression in the past but now reports being "very" depressed, rather than "depressed."

It is an indication that the subject may not have simply relapsed into depression, or is experiencing "another" bout of depression, but is stating "this is worse than before."

One might be comparing it to a prior condition, while yet another is comparing it to someone he or she knows who has been treated for depression, or still, past feelings of melancholy.

We do not know, therefore, questions, even ones we ask ourselves (by using records) are necessary.

Note the progression.  The progression is not in the patient, but in me, the writer (subject), in communicating to you, the reader/analyst.

A cry for help,

a "real" cry may indicate:

the subject has had cries for help that did not appear real OR
the analyst (clinician) may perceive the cry to be serious, genuine, etc.

It should not cause a rush to conclude deception.

I once analyzed a suicide note in which law enforcement had concluded the writer was not going to commit suicide.  I was surprised at their conclusion especially since the writer so powerfully used the pronoun "I" and I sought to speak to the analyst for clarification.  Although I did not speak directly to the analyst, the reporter said that the word "very" seemed to be, according to the analyst, "exaggeration"; therefore, 'deceptive' in the sense that the subject was not going to commit suicide.

I told the reporter of information (not media) that unless there is intervention, the subject intends to commit suicide and intervention should be immediate.  I urged escalation of the case.

When one connects himself with the word "I", we must take notice.

He was found dead a few days later.

The word "very" indicates comparison to something; another level, or another reference point.

Where it is used in abundance (not in the caricature sample above), it may indicate deception but this must be done, even sentence by sentence, in context.

If it is personal, is there an element of "personal" in the allegation, such as domestic violence? Is it an attempt to persuade, in context, when it should be, simply, a report of fact?

Is it compounded, in the same topic, even if used in different sentences?

In one statement, you might find six or seven uses of the word "very" yet find the statement to be truthful, and without deception.  ("Truthful and without deception" is because most deception is withheld information, yet each sentence being 100% truthful, while accomplishing the goal of deception).

This may be that the word "very" is disjointed (that is, about different topics), sprinkled throughout the statement.

Another statement may have six or seven  uses of "very" and be "off the charts deceptive" in that, the topic, itself, is pounded, over and over, with a need to persuade, where simple reporting would have sufficed.

The skill of the analyst in application takes time and training to develop.

A 2 day seminar may teach us how to play the chords of the guitar, but it will take continual training to make those chords sound beautiful to "accurately" transfer the sound of the music from the notes on a page, to the ears of listeners.

Still, there are those which jump out at us.  We may not jump, but it might:

"I am a very honest person."

I cannot think of a scenario that would cause me to not ask questions about this one!   :)

Do not jump, but tread lightly.

Next:  Why some jump on the word "very" and conclude deception whenever sensitivity indicators are present...


John Mc Gowan said...

Thanks for the lesson :)

John Mc Gowan said...

OT Update:

Noah Thomas' parents denied bond; admitted to leaving children home alone

PULASKI CO. (WSLS 10) - The parents of late 5-year-old Noah Thomas appeared in court separately Wednesday in Juvenile Domestic Court where they were both denied bond, according to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

Paul Thomas and Ashley White were being held at the New River Valley Jail on charges of abuse and neglect of children.
An uncle of Ashley White testified on her behalf Wednesday, offering to let her stay with him, his wife and their 11-year-old daughter. The judge stated that putting Ashley into a home with a child right now is 'unthinkable.'

According to the prosecution, the parents admitted to police that they left their children at home alone Sunday morning, March 22 when Ashley said she took Paul to work. Paul also admitted to police that he smoked weed regularly at the home.

After the couple's 6-month-old infant, Abigail, was taken by social services, she was found to have bad respiratory problems and was treated by doctors. She remains with social services at this time.

As we've reported, the Noah Thomas went missing on Sunday, March 21. His body was found in a septic tank on March 26 just after 1:00 p.m. on the family's property.

The child was found after an extensive five day search. The discovery came shortly after the sheriff announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to Noah's whereabouts.

Thomas is charged with two counts that carry up to five years in jail a piece. White is charged with one count that carries up to ten years, and another that carries up to five years.

Thomas' had previously said on April 2, 2015 "I don't want my life on television."

According to arrest warrants filed in Pulaski County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Paul Thomas "showed reckless disregard for human life," and the "incident led to Noah's death."

Arrests warrants also stated Ashley White showed "reckless disregard for human life," and "caused serious injuries." In the report it also stated "Incident ultimately led to Noah's death," and "Cause or permit to life or health of child by a willful act, omission, or refusal to provide necessary care."

Sheriff: Noah Thomas autopsy conducted, but results take longer

On March 30, Pulaski Co. Sheriff Davis said the autopsy of Noah Thomas had been conducted, but test results will take longer to process. In a statement he said it may take several weeks for results from the initial autopsy to be ready for release due to the nature of the testing being done.

The sheriff asked for patience as this process is being completed.

GetThem said...

Rats, lost my post. I liked reading this because it was also a good reminder on how not to overstate myself since I am in sales.

GeekRad said...

I'm with you GetThem. I often say things to my staff and co-workers like "I am very proud to have you on my team" or "I am very proud of you". Hopefully none of them read this and will doubt me! I mean I am more than just proud, a greater level of pride.

Anonymous said...

Those are VERY large snowflakes falling in the photo above and not very realistic. Photoshop expertise' needs to do some very in-depth work on these very large snowflakes if they want this photo to look very realistic.

I rest my case.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

I think that was the expertise of an unnamed 11 year old boy adding "effects" to dad's photo.

Anonymous said...

Well. Based on who did it Peter, I guess he did a very good job after all.

BTW, very good photo. Lovely winter scene.

Lemon said...

"Georgia police chief who shot ex-wife faces misdemeanor charge"

Susan Murphy-Milano would have been all over this.

Lewis F said...

Peter, do you have any local referrals for having a polygraph done in southern California/LA area?

Anonymous said...

Nobody is going to come to this womans' defense Lemon, and she knows it she has always known it; not in any meaningful way. They never have and they never will. She likely would also not be able to find an atty to help her should she try to find one. She has no choice but to cover for his lies.

The woman is doomed. Hubby chief will eventually kill her in one way or another, whether it is a slow death from the injuries she has already sustained or some future sick act he will perpetrate on her, and will get away with it next time too. This woman literally has no hope and no refuge. She is totally at his mercy.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


I don't, but I do know trusted law enforcement who might.

If you can, what is the need?

Remember, there are polygraph examiners who work for attorneys and there is such a thing known as "polygraph shopping" which is not a quest for truth.


Lewis F said...

Peter, it's a personal relationship need. By "polygraph shopping" do you mean searching for a particular examiner who agrees with what I may desire for the results? That's the idea of polygraph shopping I've found by googling it.

I can e-mail you or you/me if you want to discuss in private.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


I mean to use caution by who advises you towards whom.

Some polygraphers will give attorneys what they want.

Look at the former polygrapher who now "teaches" people how to beat it!

There are some therapists who are trained in polygraph or who will refer you to one who is trustworthy. These are professionals who use the polygraph to help in personal cases; some who use the polygraph for those who:

for example, claim to be "no longer attracted to children", for which the polygraph is an assistance.

Others will use it in marriage counseling, if one partner believes the other is unfaithful.

It is sad, but some will use it unethically. This is why I cautioned you.

Yet for personal reasons, see if a local therapist is either trained in it, or works with a polygraph examiner.

If there is some other way of assistance, you can email me or go through Facebook message.

Whatever it is, it sounds sad.


Apple said...

I am VERY glad you posted this, Peter. I thought "very" weakened a statement and wondered how my "exceptions to the rule* use of "very" fit with SA.

Lewis F said...

Thanks for all the info Peter. It is sad, but the things I've learned from your blog have saved me from a much worse situation.

Unknown said...

A great article. While reading it, I thought of how often I use very, or other such words. I tell my wife "I love you and Ethan (our three month old son) very much". Is that appropriate considering the context? Or would it appear as though I'm trying to convince her of that? Since discovering Statement Analysis about a year ago, I find myself analysing the words I use. Reading through your article, and others, I also realised I may be using it as a comparison to my previous relationships where I definitely was not happy. I had been cheated on and stolen from more times than I thought should be fair for one person, hence my interest in protecting myself - since then I've studied everything from micro expressions, to body language, and now statement analysis to prevent being taken advantage of again.

My question to you, Peter, is two pronged - given your article above, would the " I love you and Ethan very much " be considered as comparative to previous relationships?

And secondly, not so much on topic, would my previous history have jaded me, preventing me from implementing statement analysis effectively and accurately? My reason for asking is in reference to other articles wherein you described that there are certain people who are difficult to teach this to. I hope that is not the case. Between you and Mr. McClish, I have found the most comprehensive and fascinating topic in the realm of deception detection. Even though, in Canada, there is no use, apparently, for these skills, I find it exhilarating to learn, and even more exciting to put into practice.

Thank you, Peter