Former FBI Agent Explains How to Detect Lying Deception Tradecraft WIRED




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there are a number of myths about deception detection people believe that if someone looks away or gaze aversion is an indicator of deception or bringing the hand to the mouth or the jaw that could also be an indicator of deception or grooming gestures like fixing their hair or settling the clothing and so forth or fidgeting in your chair all those things are potential indicators of deception but there's no universal indicator of deception [Music] criminal behavioral analysis is the umbrella term that covers all the work that we did at the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit that includes criminal profiling active listening interview and interrogation and deception detection we also study teach consult on and conduct investigative interviews investigative interviews can be broken down into non confrontational interviews and interrogations but the goal of both of them is to get accurate and reliable information to get there one of the tools that we use is deception detection where we take a holistic approach and looking at many different types of indicators we look at fight-or-flight cognitive complexity and perception management as three different ways of detecting deception fight-or-flight is nothing more than noting the physiological changes that occur when someone's under stress stress can indicate lying for example decrease in salivation so make somebody swallow deeply or increased heart rate or increased adrenaline to the hands and legs because our primitive brain wants to tell us to either stand and fight or run away so it provides extra energy to your limbs when you're sitting there in an interrogation and you want to run but you can't many times you'll fidget with your hands or your legs or you'll bring them up and then try to cover them in a grooming gesture when Jodi arias was brought in for questioning after her boyfriend was brutally murdered she was sitting there and being observed by a police camera now many suspects will experience nervous energy and when they're preparing to lie that can come out in minor fidgeting or grooming gestures but sometimes there's gross body movements and there's no better example of this than when Jodi arias got up from the chair and went over to the wall and did a handstand for several seconds to sort of burn off that nervous energy it's a perfect example of fight-or-flight the concept of cognitive complexity is that when people lie they tried to keep it as simple as possible they also lie typically only about two senses what they hear and what they see they don't necessarily add how it smelled or spatial relationships or interactions with other people and they typically keep it on a very shallow level so if you think about it as cutting an onion in half and you look at the rings of that onion typically Liars will lie about the first ring where they were that day and maybe who they were with at moments but if you drill down and ask them questions about what did they do during that time what were they watching on TV who won the football game who scored the last touchdown typically that will fall apart and if you talk to one of their co-defendants and they give you different answers the fact that they're lying really stands out perception management is when a suspect tries to behave in a way they think the interviewer would expect from somebody giving a truthful statement so the suspect might believe that fidgeting would indicate lying so they'll be very still when they're telling lies so as not to give it away but the fact is throughout the other time they may have been fidgeting all the time and then the stillness is actually the indicator that they're deceiving then we look at verbal nonverbal and non linguistic verbal communication verbal indicators of deception can include words such as like sort of almost kind of when words like that are interjected in a sentence what follows is something that the teller doesn't even have confidence in for example I sort of did my homework or I started to go to work that indicates that someone didn't finish the task that they claimed to have done nonverbal behavior that could indicate deception or changes in body movements and actions on the the interviewee once you've normed an individual you look for changes in their behavior someone who's been sitting straight and answering questions directly and looking right in your eyes and being very attentive might become fidgety strange movements lake shaking arms moving grooming gestures straightening clothes when they're under the stress of lying so you have to look at changes in those physical behaviors non linguistic verbal indicators of deception could be an increase in the pace of talking an increase or decrease in the volume a change in pitch sometimes when people are lying the stress makes their voice go up a few octaves and that can be an indicator that you need to drill down on to determine whether they're lying about the thing that you're investigating the goal of looking for indicators of deception is to then find the areas where you want to drill down deeper and ask more probing questions ask in different orders and ask questions around them that may undermine and contradict the things that they've told you earlier when Scott Peterson was interrogated about the disappearance of his pregnant wife Lacey he also gave indicators of deception there's a major difference between hearing and listening hearing is the thing that your ear does it's receiving sound vibrations but listening is actually cognitively participating in what you're hearing and so if you're writing something down while somebody's talking to you you can't actively listen and I'd like to mention the fact that this officer is questioning Scott Peterson and writing down his answers rather than looking at his behavior is a big mistake what he should be doing is letting someone else write down the answers so he could observe it's got Peterson's behavior a lot of the behaviors that we look for when we're trying to detect deception are very common and you can see it in public statements all the time for example when President Nixon made that infamous I'm not a crook statement because people have got to know whether or not their presidents a crook well I'm not a crook he said and I think too that I can say and I think too that I can say that in my public life I welcome this kind of investigation that in my years of public life that I welcome this kind of examination it was so nervous about having to say that statement that he had to build up his courage by saying I think too that I can say it's extraneous information the pace of his speaking increases radically that I welcome this kind of examination I welcome this kind of examination and that's a non linguistic verbal indicator of deception it's again a change in behavior that's a red flag that I would dive deeper into if I was interrogating him about this so when we're assessing President Nixon's statements we look at perception management verbal nonverbal and non linguistic verbal clues to determine he's actually lying during the Whitewater investigation against President Clinton he was accused of having a sexual relationship with one of the interns at the White House Monica Lewinsky and he denied that emphatically but there are a lot of indicators of deception in his denial I did not have sexual relations with that one in this clip the President Clinton is clearly trying to manage the perceptions of the public he says I want to say something through the American people but I want to say one thing to the American people I want you to listen to me I want you to listen to me I'm gonna say this again I'm gonna say this again three statements in order to set up what he's about to say instead of simply stating it when you're telling facts you simply have to state them when you're telling a lie you have to convince the people that what you're about to say is the truth and that's what I believe he's doing President Clinton is a very smart man and he's using very carefully chosen words here what President Clinton says here is that he did not have sexual relations with that woman sexual relations with that woman that woman being Monica Lewinsky but he uses the term that woman to distance himself from Monica Lewinsky when in fact we all now know that he did have a sexual relationship with her he also uses the words sexual relations I did not have sexual relations with that woman for sexual relations without he's using those specific words because he wants people to have a very strict interpretation of what he's saying what he's doing is committing a lie of omission he's saying he didn't have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky but what he's not saying is the guilty behavior of having sexual activity with her he's implying that nothing happened when in fact all he's saying is we didn't engage in sexual intercourse so it's a misdirection and a deception but carefully clad in very specific language that appears to be a denial when it's not a denial at all that's what I would drill down on to find out what he actually did with Monica wins after every confession the investigator should drill down into the details both with the person who's confessing and outside to verify or refute the details of that confession when there's inconsistency between known facts and what somebody says in a confession that undermines the credibility of the confession many times cases will be successful or fall apart based on what happens during the course of an investigative interview so we use behavioral analysis principles to determine whether a confession is accurate and reliable or a false confession the thing is that every person is an individual and we have to make sure that we take a holistic look at all of these things and the entire behavior that human being exhibits when they're undergoing interview or interrogations