≡ Menu

The (almost) infallible lie detector

And it’s not a machine, it’s human and there are in fact thirty of them! Whittled down from a cast of thousands, Professor Maureen O’Sullivan from the University of San Francisco, went searching for the people who could spot lies better than a polygraph (60-70% acccuracy). The ‘wizards’ as she calls them have developed their skills by themselves over the years and were able to spot the liars in virtually all the cases presented to them.

They claim to look for clues in flickering facial expressions as well as general body language and voice tone. The plan is try to break down what these people are doing and teach it to those who need to be able to detect lies, such as police officers. But as Aldert Vrij, professor of social psychology at the University of Portsmouth, points out – will they be able to explain exactly what they are doing?

It seems likely to me that accurately detecting people’s lies is the kind of skill picked up implicitly through years of experience. It may be difficult to teach others the fundamentals in a short amount of time.

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:

Dr Dean’s bio, Twitter, Facebook and how to contact him.

> From BBC News