Detection of Deception: Nonverbal Cues

Trying to find a tell-tale sign of deceit (a “Pinocchio's nose”) in human nonverbal behavior has been the subject of much effort, and many suggestions have been put forward. In lay people's thinking and in police interrogation manuals alike, one can find numerous ideas about detecting deceit from nonverbal behaviors such as eye contact or gestures. The scientific research shows, however, that overall only a few nonverbal behaviors are associated with deception. Under certain conditions, such as time to prepare the lie, special motivation to convincingly tell a lie, and when the lie is about concealing a transgression, there seem to be some nonverbal behaviors that may distinguish liars from truth tellers.

Research on beliefs about deception shows that presumed experts (e.g., police officers) and lay ...

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