Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spy the lie - a review

Really enjoyed this. It discusses the verbal and non-verbal clues to look for when you are trying to assess whether someone is being deceptive. It's filled with lots of interesting case studies and written by the guys who train the guys. Obviously, a quick read of the book does not turn you into a human lie-detector. But I think even for the total interrogation novice you could take home some good ideas. Here's what stood out to me:

1. Lying is much harder than telling the truth. From the moment you decide you will saying something deceptive, your brain is working almost against itself. Think of rubbing your head and patting your  tummy. Your brain's default position is reality and saying something that doesn't match with reality requires more energy than the truth.

2. How you ask questions is really important. Consider for example, "So you didn't go by the house at all that night?" All the person has to do in response to that question in order to lie is say, "That's right," or "No." That's not so hard. And the more times they say it, the easier it gets. Open ended questions make it much harder as the person responding has to filter in multiple possible answers and facts that they must stick to if they want to pull off a lie.

3. Micro-expressions are too hard to analyze in real-life. Lie to Me might be fun to watch but they don't use those techniques very much in real interrogations.

4. If you look for only one symptom of lying - say a particular non-verbal cue like sweating or fidgeting - you might be confused by something that is simple a product of the current context (the seat is uncomfortable or the heating too high) and not an actual indicator of deception. Better to look for "clusters" of deceptive signals. If you have a "cluster" of verbal or nonverbal deception indicators that begin within the five seconds of the stimulus question, you need to follow up that topic.

Included at the end are some suggested questions to ask in specific situations such as a list of questions parents might use to ask their teenagers about drug use. At this point, you need to keep in mind that they only give you the tools to uncover information and possible deception. What you then do with what you find out is an entirely different kettle of fish!

I managed to find the book at my local library but it's also available from all of the usual suspects.


Don Tennant said...

Thanks for the kind review -- glad you enjoyed it!


Deb said...

And I spot no deception there so I'm going to say, "You're welcome!"