Critical Review "Who Can Catch A Liar?"

1537 words - 6 pages

IntroductionMuch recent psychological research has centred around our capability to identify deception and lies. The ability to detect lies can be beneficial to many organisations including the criminal justice system, the police and even potential employers. Recent studies have endeavoured to show what characteristics are prevalent when we tell lies and what skills are necessary to detect them. There are many psychological processes that take place when we aim to deceive; our body language may change, our speech may alter and we may experience physiological differences. Most of us are already aware of the technological benefits of the polygraph test which measures our physiological changes, but can our verbal and nonverbal signals of deception be detected?The research conducted by Ekman and O'Sullivan (1991) evaluates lie detecting abilities from a range of participants who work within the criminal justice system or intelligence services, in other words, people who would encounter lies in a professional capacity or "professional lie catchers". This study aims to show if people with a professional interest in lie detection prove more adept at predicting whether people are lying or not. The researchers used a between participants experiment with 509 participants, all of them mostly selected from the criminal justice system. The participants were asked to predict whether subjects were lying or telling the truth, after viewing them on a videotape. All participants performed only slightly better than chance, apart from the Secret Service, who were significantly better statistically at detecting deception.DesignThis study focussed on the behavioural differences between people telling the truth and people telling lies and the use of micro-expressions in detecting deception. The first hypothesis being, "Those who make accurate judgements, regardless of their occupation, would describe different behavioural clues to those who make inaccurate judgements". The second hypothesis was, "There would be a positive correlation between accuracy in detecting deceit and accuracy in measuring micro-expressions of emotions".Using the Facial Action Coding System (Ekman and Friesen, 1976) in which movements of the face can be measured to detect deception, and using vocal measurements, the researchers were able to classify 86% of the videotaped subjects correctly. The aim of the study was to see how well "professional lie catchers" perform at detecting lies and what behavioural clues they use.The participants were selected from the following professions: CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, Drug Enforcement Agency, US Secret Services, federal polygraphers, police, judges and also psychiatrists, psychology college students and working adults with a special interest (people who had attended a one day course on deception). Participants were asked to comment on how good they felt they were in detecting deception and what clues they used to predict if someone was being...

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