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Deception: Eye Movement & Deception – Reliable?

A myth perpetuated for about 25 years, law enforcement training has bought into the notion that merely watching the movement of a person’s eyes would reveal if a person is being truthful or deceptive.  This concept has taught criminal justice academies frequently citing Richard Bandler and John Grinder who developed Neuro-Linguistic Programming as the source for the concept.  To date there has been no published peer-reviewed scientific research supporting the concept although many of the folks teaching the concept claim “90%” accuracy at spotting deception.

Point of interest – in their original work Frogs into Princes on  Bandler and Grinder stated “… many people reconstruct their memories…”  which totally contradicts the claims made by the misinformed instructors.

John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair discuss the question of eye accessing cues experiments in their book Whispering in the Wind, pages 80-81 (2001).  In one experiment they tested whether eye movement could be used to determine if someone was lying. This was is what the found from their research:

“Eye accessing cues show whether a person is remembering or constructing a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic “image”.  A constructed image is not necessarily false, so the answer is “No, you cannot tell whether someone is lying just by watching their eye movements”.

Here is a great starting point to study the misuse of N.L.P. principles as an analytical tool to spot deception via eye movement. This paper discusses something around 60 studies that refute the claim of using eye movement to spot deception.

In the conclusion of this study, it is noted by the authors that “detecting lies on the basis of eye movement is reprehensible.”

Check it out for yourself.  Be sure to follow the source bibliography and read the additional supporting studies mentioned.

Neuro-linguistic programming and the police: Worthwhile or not?by Aldert Vrij and Shara K. Lochun

Journal of Police & Criminal Psychology, Vol 12, Number 1, 1998.


In the seventies Bandler and Grinder (1975, 1979; Grinder & Bandler, 1976) developed their model of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The aim of this model is to facilitate communication between persons (Particularly between counselors and clients). There is a growing body of literature on NLP; it is nowadays even used in a police context (Gray, 1991; Mayers, 1993; Rhoads & Solomon, 1987). What does NLP mean? To what extent does empirical research support the NLP-model? And, to what extent is NLP useful for the police? This article addresses these three questions.
In the Level 1 & 2 Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® we spend time debunking these and other myths that destroy an interrogator’s ability to accurately spot deception in a subject’s behaviors.

Stan B. Walters, CSP “The Lie Guy®”
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

YouTube: Eye Contact & Deception Cues

Sexual Offenders: Pedophiles Case Study

Very interesting case study of Pedophiles.  Notice the conclusions of the study.  In my opinion, it is common in the public, media and other “authoritative sources” to believe that these are one time offenders, that they can be cured.  The results of this study demonstrate that this is a “life long” fixation and behavior pattern.

Pedophiles: A case study
by Dennis J. Stevens

Volume 17, Number 1, 36-51 . 2002


This study characterizes men who have engaged in habitual sexual conduct with children, or pedophiles. This examination is designed as a content analysis using the academic and practitioner press to describe pedophilia characteristics among predators. The sample of three convicted predators is not the focus of this investigation but used to primarily to help operationalize the realities of pedophiles as seen in the literature. All three participants were offenders in a high profile event in the region of the country where they individuals were apprehended, tried, and eventually convicted. The findings indicate that the behavior of most pedophiles is a way of life prior to, during, and after incarceration. One implication arising from this finding is that rehabilitation might be pointless for these offenders. Further research is suggested to determine classification levels of pedophiles in order to best serve the communities these offenders are released into.
We cover suggestions and recommendations for effective interview & interrogation methods and behavior analysis of pedophiles in the Level 3 & 4 Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® course.

Stan B. Walters, CSP “The Lie Guy®
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

Detecting Deception: Does the Truth Come Out in Writing?

Another major research study that once again tests the accuracy of using written statements to identify deception.  It appears from the research conclusions that “Reality Monitoring” type of interview methods (such as those we teach in Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® – Information Recovery Technique) are far more accurate than using written statements.

Take a look at the abstract and the conclusions:

Does the Truth Come Out in the Writing? SCAN as a Lie Detection Tool

Law and Human Behavior
January 2011 First Published On-Line

by Galit Nahari, Aldert Vrij and Ronald P. Fisher


We tested the accuracy of Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN), a verbal lie detection tool that is used world-wide by federal law enforcement and military agencies. Sixty-one participants were requested to write down the truth, an outright lie or a concealment lie about activities they had just completed. The statements were coded with SCAN and with another verbal lie detection tool, Reality Monitoring (RM). RM discriminated significantly between truth tellers and outright liars and between truth tellers and concealment liars, whereas SCAN did not discriminate between truth tellers and either kind of liar. Implications of the findings for the suitability of SCAN as a lie detection tool are discussed.

Stan B. Walters, CSP “The Lie Guy®”

Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®”

Detecting Deception: Reverse the Order of Events and Create Cognitive Load

This piece of research supports what has been taught in Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® for many years.  Having your subject describe events in reverse order creates significant cognitive load for them and makes it much easier for the interviewer to uncover points of deception.  It is also least likely to contaminate the subject’s statement.

Check in out:

Law and Human Behavior Volume 32, Number 3, 253-265.   August 2007

Increasing Cognitive Load to Facilitate Lie Detection: The Benefit of Recalling an Event in Reverse Order

Aldert Vrij, Samantha A. Mann, Ronald P. Fisher, Sharon Leal, Rebecca Milne and Ray Bull


In two experiments, we tested the hypotheses that (a) the difference between liars and truth tellers will be greater when interviewees report their stories in reverse order than in chronological order, and (b) instructing interviewees to recall their stories in reverse order will facilitate detecting deception. In Experiment 1, 80 mock suspects told the truth or lied about a staged event and did or did not report their stories in reverse order. The reverse order interviews contained many more cues to deceit than the control interviews. In Experiment 2, 55 police officers watched a selection of the videotaped interviews of Experiment 1 and made veracity judgements. Requesting suspects to convey their stories in reverse order improved police observers’ ability to detect deception and did not result in a response bias.

Stan B. Walters, CSP “The Lie Guy®
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

Detecting Deception: Are Behavior Analysis Questions Accurate

One of the many questions about spotting deception has been whether using a specific list of prepared questions would be helping separate truthful subjects from deceptive subjects.  On at least two occasions I have been asked if it would possible to create a set list of questions that anyone cold use to spot liars.  One of those inquiries was about even creating a set list of questions for airport ticket agents to ask passengers.

The research of the concept of set questions to be used for spotting deception shows — it doesn’t work.

Check out

An Empirical Test of the Behaviour Analysis Interview
by Aldert Vrij, Samantha Mann and Ronald P. Fisher


The present experiment is the first empirical test of the Behaviour Analysis Interview (BAI), an interview technique developed by F. E. Inbau, J. E. Reid, J. P. Buckley, & B. C. Jayne (2001) designed to evoke different verbal and non-verbal responses from liars and truth-tellers. Inbau et al. expect liars to be less helpful than truth-tellers in investigations and to exhibit more nervous behaviours. Just the opposite predictions, however, follow from the deception literature, which notes that liars take their credibility less for granted and are therefore more aware of their responses and their impact on others. This suggests that liars’ answers should be more helpful than truth-tellers’ answers, and liars’ non-verbal responses should appear more relaxed than truth-tellers’ non-verbal responses. In the present experiment, 40 participants (undergraduate students) lied or told the truth about an event during a BAI interview. The interviews were coded according to Inbau et al.’s guidelines. The results showed that, compared to liars, truth-tellers (a) were more naive and evasive when explaining the purpose of the interview, and (b) were less likely to name someone who they felt certain did not commit the crime. Truth-tellers also exhibited more nervous behaviours. The results were consistent with the predictions of the deception literature, and directly opposed to the predictions of BAI.

Stan B. Walters, CSP “The Lie Guy®”

Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

Deception: Can Drawings Help Spot a Liar?

I found this article VERY fascinating.  Psychology Today blog article by David DiSalvo on a study that reports about what happens when subjects are asked to sketch the scene or location where an event occurred.  The study appears to indicate that deceptive subjects draw or sketch the scene totally different than the way truthful people sketch the scene.  What I find interesting is the “over the shoulder camera-view.”  I wonder if I can use this as an “over the shoulder view” as a way to judge the verbal accuracy of what my subjects are describing during the narrative phase.

Check out: “If You Want to Catch a Liar, Make Him Draw”

Stan B. Walters CSP “The Lie Guy®”
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

Deception: Successful Lie Spotting Requires Sucessfully Spotting the Truth

Interesting article on Humanintell.  Dr. Matsumoto reports that the ability for us to be able to accurately spot when someone is lying, we must be able to accurately spot when someone is being honest.

Check out A Look at the Truth Consider your own efforts at spotting truth vs. deception.

Stan B. Walters CSP “The Lie Guy®”
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

Body Language: What IS an Honest Smile?

Just a little short article in Scientific American about research on the features of a genuine smile.  Ever wondered in a daily conversation or in your interview if the person is in fact generating a real smile.

In Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® we learn to accurately read true and false emotional expressions by our subjects.  Sometimes the analysis can be VERY simple.

Check it out here :

What Makes an Honest Smile Honest?

Scientific American December 11, 2010

Stan B. Walters CSP “The Lie Guy®”
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

False Confession: True & False Confession Due to Interrogator Pre-Conception

A very interesting research project about true and false confession.  Results from the study demonstrate that when the interrogator has a “pre-conception” that the subject is guilty there is a greater risk of false confession by innocent subject’s.  It appears that under those conditions, the interrogator is more likely to employ tactics that are associated will false confessions.  Important to remember how pre-conceptions and tactics come to play in false confessions.

Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® courses focus on tactics that reduce the risk of false confessions.

“Modeling the Influence of Investigator Bias on the Elicitation of True and False Confessions”

Fadia M. Narchet, Christian A. Meissner and Melissa B. Russano
Law and Human Behavior  10.1007/s10979-010-9257


The aim of this study was to model various social and cognitive processes believed to be associated with true and false confessions by exploring the link between investigative biases and what occurs in the interrogation room. Using the Russano et al. (Psychol Sci 16:481–486, 2005) paradigm, this study explored how perceptions of guilt influenced the frequency and type of interrogation tactics used, suspect’s perceptions of the interrogation process, the likelihood of confession, and investigator’s resulting perceptions of culpability. Results suggested that investigator bias led to the increased use of minimization tactics and thereby increased the likelihood of false confessions by innocent participants. In contrast, the manipulation of investigator bias had no direct or indirect influence on guilty participants. These findings confirm the important role of investigator bias and improve our understanding of the decision-making process associated with true and false confessions.

Stan B. Walters, CSP “The Lie Guy®”
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®

Deception: The Ease of Lying

Interesting article about lying and the conditions when it’s harder or easier for a person to lie.  Apparently frequent truth telling makes lying more difficult, but frequent lying makes lying easier.  Think of the implications fro the interviewer.

“The ease of lying.”

Verschuere B, Spruyt A, Meijer EH, Otgaar H.z
Conscious Cognition. 2010 Nov 17.


Brain imaging studies suggest that truth telling constitutes the default of the human brain and that lying involves intentional suppression of the predominant truth response. By manipulating the truth proportion in the Sheffield lie test, we investigated whether the dominance of the truth response is malleable. Results showed that frequent truth telling made lying more difficult, and that frequent lying made lying easier. These results implicate that (1) the accuracy of lie detection tests may be improved by increasing the dominance of the truth response and that (2) habitual lying makes the lie response more dominant.

Stan B. Walters, CSP “The Lie Guy®”
Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®