How Can You Tell If Somebody's Lying?

Dec 17, 2015 11:40 AM EST | By Maria Leonila Masculino


Don't you wish you have the power to tell who's lying?

Yahoo Health reports a research conducted by fellows at University of Michigan studied over a hundred courtroom videos to identify the verbal cues and body language used by people when they lie.

Published as part of the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction, the researchers delicately looked at testimonies from witnesses and defendants captured on videos. The court's verdict indicated which of those people were lying.

"We wanted to see what it would be like if you had real deception," said study's co-lead author Rada Mihalcea, a computer science and engineering professor at the University of Michigan. "We can do lab occurrences, asking subjects to lie imagining that they are in a certain situation, but we then don't get that high stakes occurrence of deception because it can be difficult to create a setting that truly motivates people to lie. But in the real world, there is true motivation to deceive."

Mihalcea, who led the study with computer science and engineering professor at UM-Flint, Mihai Burzo, created a new lie-detecting software along with research members Veronica Perez-Rose and Mohamed Abouelenien. Their unique lie-detector identified 75% of those who are lying accurately, making it comparable to the traditional polygraph test - which is 85% accurate.

According to researchers, those who are found lying exhibited these five indicating actions.

40% of liars were found using animated hand gestures when they speak compared to only 25% of truthful people. Mihalcea pointed out that this "might have to do with them trying to fabricate something. When there is more explanation going on, they need both hands to create more of the story."

30% of liars are scowling and grimacing when being dishonest, too. "Frowning with anger occurs more often with lying than with truth telling," Mihalcea explained.

Believe it or not, deceptive people can look you straight in the eye when they lie. In the study, 70% of liars were looking directly at the interrogator compared to 60% of those who were honest. "The liars are trying so very hard to convince that they are not lying, that in a rational way, they're just using everything they can" to look trustworthy, she added.

Using fillers such as "um," "ah," or "uh" is also associated with fabricating stories. "This is something that is hard to control," Mihalcea explained. "When you are thinking about what you are going to say, the words are rational and logical to convince other people of what you want to in dialogue. But the other sounds, you can't control as much."

Lastly, those who are lying tend to replace first person words like "I" or "we" to "he" or "she". In fact, some would just get themselves out of the statement and avoid using the subject noun entirely.

The researchers wish that this study could help the law enforcement community in the future.

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