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


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