Thursday, June 7, 2007

Interrogations & Lies

A recent experiment in Britain on the reliability of interrogation cues has come up with some interesting results. It would seem that asking questions that require reverse order answers provide the most reliable means of seperating the facts from the lies:

Asking suspects to tell their alibis from back to front is a better way for police to spot liars than looking for lack of eye contact or shifting in the seat, researchers have found.

Putting extra mental pressure on suspects by asking them to reverse their accounts can lead to clearer signs that they are lying.

Research by academics at the University of Portsmouth, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), has cast doubt on the reliability of watching for suspects shifting uncomfortably, stumbling over words or breaking eye contact.

This is because liars often put more effort into impressing their interviewers. However, research - which ESRC said had attracted interest from investigators in the UK and abroad - shows they struggle with telling, and re-telling, a back-to-front story.

The ESRC said: "Police manuals recommend several approaches to help investigators decide whether they are being told the truth.

"The principal strategy focuses on visual cues such as eye contact and body movement, whilst the 'Baseline Method' sees investigators compare a suspect's verbal and non-verbal responses during 'small talk' at the beginning of interview with those in the interview proper."

A third approach, the Behavioural Analysis Interview (BAI) strategy, "comprises a list of questions to which it is suggested liars and those telling the truth will give different responses.

"However, research has consistently found that cues offered in each of these scenarios are unreliable - a view confirmed by the ESRC-funded 'Interviewing to Detect Deception' study."

. . . "Those paying attention to visual cues proved significantly worse at distinguishing liars from those telling the truth than those looking for speech-related cues. In another experiment, liars appeared less nervous and more helpful than those telling the truth - contrary to the advice of the BAI strategy."
Read the entire story here.

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