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Thomas Armorrot’s defense team was faced with an impossible task.
At European airports, they ask about the personal history and travel plans of travelers. Omoroth sent many to the security checkpoint; These people had imaginary past history and future plans, and his team wanted to find out who was lying.
In fact, only one in a thousand of them will deceive them. Identifying a liar should be like finding a needle in a haystack. What about them?
Focusing on body language or eye movements is one way, isn’t it? This is really a bad idea.
Continued research shows that even trained police officers try to read lies from body language and facial expressions, and success is often accidental. According to one study, out of 20,000 people, only 50% can make accurate judgments with more than 80% accuracy. In most cases, it is better to throw a coin.
Omorot’s team has tried some different methods, which in most cases have successfully identified fake passengers.
Their secret? Ignore the many traces of deception that were previously recognized and use other very simple techniques to get started anew.
In recent years, research results on cheating have been disappointing. Most of the previous work has focused on understanding the intentions of the liar through body language or face with red cheeks, nervous smile, and cunning eyes.
The most famous example is Bill Clinton, who touched his nose when he refused to have a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, which at the time was considered a clear sign of lying.
According to Timothy Levine of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, this can be explained by the fact that lying can lead to strong emotions – even tension, guilt and excitement with challenges – that can be difficult to control.
Even if we think of ourselves as “poker faces” we can actually make small movements called “micro expressions” that can betray us.
However, as more and more psychologists look at it, it is difficult to find credible clues. The problem is the diversity of human behavior. You may find yourself twisting when someone you know well tells the truth, but the behavior of others may be very different; There is no general body language dictionary.
Omoroth, who works at the University of Sussex, said: “Cheating is not always a sign of existence.”
Levine agreed with this opinion: “The evidence is very clear — there is no credible clue to distinguish between lies and facts.”
Although you may have heard that the human subconscious mind can notice these symptoms, it is denied by the facts.
Despite these inevitable results, our safety still largely depends on these mythical clues.
Take for example the tests that some passengers have to take before a long-haul flight — Omoroth was asked to come up with a solution ahead of the 2012 Olympics. Under normal circumstances, security officers use “yes / no” questionnaires to understand passengers’ intentions, and they are specially trained to look for “suspicious signs” that may indicate deceptive behavior (such as nervous body language).
“It does not provide an opportunity to listen, to reflect on credibility, and to notice changes in behavior — these are fundamental features of detecting frustration,” he said.
He said existing rules and regulations could easily lead to prejudice – for example, officials are more likely to detect suspicious symptoms in certain ethnic groups. “Current methods actually prevent the detection of deceptive behavior,” he added.
Obviously, a new approach is needed. However, considering that only some catastrophic results have been obtained in the laboratory, what should be the new method?
Omorot’s answer is simple: no longer pay attention to subtle expressions and behavioral details, but to focus more on what people are saying, cleverly identifying the right “stress points” and breaking the disguise of liars.
Principles of reliability
Omoroth and his colleagues at the University of Wolverhampton have compiled a series of conversational principles that can improve the probability of identifying a liar as a coral:
- Ask open-ended questions. This forces the liar to expand their story until they fall into the web of deception they have woven.
- Create elements of surprise. Investigators may try to increase the liar’s “intellectual burden” by asking him some confusing or unexpected questions or by flashbacking the incident – which is a very difficult disguise for the other person to maintain.
- Pay attention to the little details that can be verified. If the passenger says he is at Oxford University, ask him to tell you about his journey to and from work.
- Notice the change in self-confidence. Observe carefully how the performance of a potential liar changes when challenged: the liar may use more words when in control, but their comfort zone is less; If he feels he is losing control, he may close his mouth.
The purpose is to speak casually, not to question harshly. However, under this mild pressure, the liar will reveal himself due to contradictory story, apparent avoidance or instability.
“It’s important to know that there is no quick fix to the problem; we ‘ve put the best way together.” Omorod said.
Omorot agrees that his strategy is common sense. “A friend told me I was applying for a patent for the art of dialogue,” he said. But the results speak for themselves.
The group pretended to be passengers and asked them to carry real plane tickets and travel documents. They have a week to prepare their stories and are then asked to stand in line with other real passengers at European airports.
Agents trained in the interrogation techniques of Omorot and Tandal are 20 times more likely to detect fake passengers than those who use suspicious signs, and the probability of detecting a liar is 70%.
“It’s very interesting,” Levine said. He did not participate in this research, but he believes it is important to conduct field tests at the airport. “This is very realistic research.”
The art of persuasion
Levine’s own experience is also very convincing.
Like Omorot, he believes that intelligent questions aimed at revealing holes in a liar’s story are better than trying to find obvious signs in body language. He recently created a quiz game in which undergraduate students work in pairs and receive a $ 5 cash prize for each correct answer.
Students do not know that their partner is an actor. When the game host temporarily leaves the room, the actor instructs the students to quickly check for cheating answers in the game. A few students accepted the offer.
The students were then questioned by real federal agents as to whether they were cheating. Investigating their stories using tactical questions – without paying attention to body language or other clues – the agents found the cheaters with more than 90% accuracy.
In 33 interviews, one expert was 100% correct — this amazing result surpassed the accuracy of body language analysis. Importantly, in the follow-up study, it was found that even novices can achieve almost 80% accuracy using the new open-ended questions.
In fact, investigators can often “force” fraudsters to publicly admit their mistake. Levine said a simple technique known to masters who have mastered the art of persuasion is their secret: students start the conversation by asking if they are honest. If they tell the truth in public, then they can do it more openly.
“People like to think they’re honest, so they’re willing to cooperate,” Levine said. “Even dishonest people can’t pretend to cooperate, so in most cases you can see who’s acting.”
Apparently, some professional detectives may have used these techniques — but considering the myths surrounding body language, it is important to emphasize how powerful a stimulus it can be compared to dubious body language.
Despite their success, Omarot and Levine believe that others will try to reflect and deepen their decisions, and they will act effectively in different situations. “We have to be wary of cookie-cutter statements,” Levine said.
While these techniques are mainly helpful for law enforcement, they can also help identify fraudsters in your life.
“I always do this with the kids,” Omorrod said. The important thing to remember is not to rush to conclusions with an open mind — just because someone is nervous or doesn’t remember important details doesn’t mean they are guilty. Instead, you should look at the most common contradictions.
There is no foolish way to distinguish falsehood, but with a little ingenuity, wisdom and persuasion one can expect the truth to finally come out.