Non-experts have high rates of success of lie detection when viewing experts work
Originally published: August 21, 2014
Determining deception is a tool of the trade for law enforcement. The Good Cop/Bad Cop routine is etched in our minds as an effective method of finding out the truth. But prior research has shown that lie detecting is a 50/50 shot for experts and non-experts alike. So what exactly can we do to find out the truth? A recent study published in Human Communication Research by researchers at Korea University, Michigan State University, and Texas State University – San Marcos found that using active questioning of individuals yielded near-perfect results, 97.8%, in detecting deception.
Timothy Levine, Hee Sun Park (University of Korea), David Daniel Clare, Steve McCornack, Kelly Morrison (Michigan State University), and J.Pete Blair (Texas State – San Marcos) published their findings in the journal Human Communication Research. The researchers conducted three studies based on sets of participants who were asked to play a trivia game. Unbeknownst to the participants, a confederate was placed with them offering an incentive and opportunity to cheat at the game, since cash prizes were involved. In the first experiment 12% of the subjects cheated; in the second experiment 44.9% cheated.
An expert using the Reid Technique interrogated participants in the first study, this expert was 100% accurate (33 of 33) in determining who had cheated and who had not. That kind of accuracy has 100 million to one odds. The second group of participants were then interviewed by five US federal agents with substantial polygraph and interrogation expertise. Using a more flexible and free approach (interviews lasted from three minutes to 17 minutes), these experts were able to accurately detect whether or not a participant cheated in 87 of 89 interviews (97.8%). In the third study, non-experts were shown taped interrogations of the experts from the previous two experiments. These non-experts were able to determine deception at a greater-than-chance rate – 79.1% (experiment 1), and 93.6% (experiment 2).
Previous studies with “experts” usually used passive deception detection where they watched videotapes. In the few studies where experts were allowed to question potential liars, either they had to follow questions scripted by researchers (this study had no scripts) or confession seeking was precluded. Previous studies found that accuracy was near chance – just above 50%.
“This research suggests that effective questioning is critical to deception detection,” Levine said. “Asking bad questions can actually make people worse than chance at lie detection, and you can make honest people appear guilty. But, fairly minor changes in the questions can really improve accuracy, even in brief interviews. This has huge implications for intelligence and law enforcement.”
Originally published: August 21, 2014
Established in 1899 as the Southwest Texas State Normal School, it opened its doors in 1903 to 303 students with a focus to educate students to become teachers. Since that time it has grown into the largest institution in the Texas State University System and the fifth-largest university in the state of Texas boasting an enrollment of over 34,000 students. Academically, it is composed of 10 colleges and about 50 schools and departments across multiple disciplines, including nationally recognized programs in Geography, Criminal Justice and Music. President Lyndon B. Johnson graduated from the University in 1930, making Texas State the only university in Texas to have a President of the United States as an alumnus.
Texas State’s main campus sits on 457 acres (1.85 km2) of hilly land along the San Marcos River. It also has a satellite campus that started as a multi-institution teaching center offering undergraduate and graduate programs at the Texas State University Round Rock Campus (RRC) in the greater north Austin area. Additionally, the main campus in San Marcos serves as the location of the fictional school TMU (Texas Methodist University) in the NBC TV series Friday Night Lights.