While the traditional courses of human lie detection (facial micro-expression changes, fidgeting, profuse sweating, etc.) are still valid methods of determining your subject’s truthfulness – to the degree that one is trained in, and astute to, human reactions during prevarication – we can cut to the quick with these newer, tested and timely (upcoming 2016 election year, enough said) tips on real-time truth assessment and manipulation:
1. Response time. Truthful recollection of an event or fact presents differently in the brain than does a lie. Although several brain areas appear to play a role in deception, the most consistent scientific finding is that activity in the prefrontal cortex increases when people lie. The prefrontal cortex, situated just behind the forehead, is responsible for executive control (the ability to regulate thoughts or actions to achieve goals). Executive control includes cognitive processes such as planning, problem solving, and attention — all important components of deception — therefore it’s logical to conclude (and fMRI research supports) that the prefrontal cortex is active when we lie. Dishonesty requires the brain to work harder than honesty, and this effort is reflected by increased brain activity. Simply stated: lies take longer to form so your subject will take longer to answer your question.
Solution: A. Speed up your rate of questioning. B. Circle back to questions already asked with an intentional “mis” take on the response. (E.g., misstate the time, date, clothing worn, persons with the interviewee, etc.)
2. Eyes. We’ve all heard the old advice that claims that liars look about furtively. True for most but the really good ones stare at you for a longer-than-normal period of time. Not only is that an attempt to appear sincere, it is a challenge to force the interviewer to back down first.
Solution: Counter-intuitively, move your eyes about. Don’t get into a bug-eyed eye-rolling contest. Rather, as the subject answers, make eye contact and then look directly laterally to a spot above the person’s shoulder. (As if you are looking at something coming up behind them.) This maneuver instigates an innate response to perceived danger behind the subject and elicits a truer response as the lie is halted in its infancy as the responder involuntarily shifts away from the pre-frontal cortex to the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain.
3. Body Movements, Linguistics: Liars tend to a) hide or clasp their hands in an attempt to literally “hold firm” to their lies and possibly to stop involuntary shaking of the hands, b) touch their faces or c) exaggerate a speech affect (accent, pronunciation, etc.) during the telling of a lie.
Solution: Subtly mimic the subject’s behavior. Unintentional (as it were) mirroring, generally applies to people who are getting along so well that they mimic each other’s body posture, hand gestures, speaking accents, among other actions.
(“Imitation is the best form of flattery.”)
Use this method to subconsciously disarm the subject. As the chameleon behavior signals trust and admiration, the subject opens up more and incorporates more of the truth (especially if it is shocking, horrible or ethically/morally repellent) in their responses. The body is actually autonomously making the interaction smoother to increase the level of likeability when in rapport.
Use these techniques for good and, in general, trust and hone your own instincts.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.