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Methods of Lie Detection

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Methods of Lie Detection
Samuel Medina
Housatonic Community College

This research paper will cover a few different aspects of Lie Detection. Through the knowledge gathered from 5 journal articles the reader will learn of different methods of lie detection as well as some real life applications and the possibilities of lie detection in the near future. The areas that the 5 journal articles touch upon are the Cognitive load approach, the use of the polygraph and its controversies, the behavioral differences when using a person’s first or second language, the use of fMRI and the potential future of fMRI technology and last but not least some of the application of lie detection in our world today and potential for even more efficient and less intrusive methods of lie detection.

Methods of Lie Detection
In today’s society technology is at the fore-front of almost every aspect of life. In one particular area technology has created a new path of discovery for society to explore. Lie detection is a subject widely used in different ways throughout law enforcement and is becoming implemented in many different ways in our society today. Lie detection is being used in court rooms all over the world to solidify verdicts proved in the court rooms. There are a few methods of lie detection used in and outside of the court rooms but not all are allowed in the court rooms because of certain controversies. Of course with every aspect of our world today there are skeptics. Many scholars try to disprove and discredit the methods of lie detection with the argument that it is unethical or unlawful to subject people to those type of tests in a court room. Within the debate of lie detection there have been some incredible findings and hints to the future of lie detection technology. It is an exciting study and there is much to look forward to with regards to picking the human brain for new ways to discover the truth behind the lies.
There have been many studies to support the idea of lie detection, but there are holes in some of the research. One article, “A Cognitive Load Approach to Lie Detection” by A. Vrij et al., discusses the stress of Cognitive load on person to create a more defined reaction whether telling the truth or lying. For example, one of the most widely used methods is the “concerned-based method in which one of the questions asked is the ‘you’ question: ‘Did you start that fire (Vrij et al., 2008)?”When the person is asked this critical question it often catches them off guard resulting in the suspect becoming jittery a giving off the impression of lying. The problem with this is that it is an assumption with no real explanation as to if a suspect would actually be lying when they become antsy and jittery. One study was created by A. Vrij et al. enhancing the validity of these assumptions using two different approaches within cognitive lie detection. “It is assumed that the mere act of lying generates observable signs of cognitive load (Vrij et al., 2008).” This means that when a person lies their response times are slower. This is known as the cognitive load approach, but the approach goes a step further in the second approach, “increasing the cognitive load (Vrij et al., 2008).” Higher levels of cognitive load are placed on the suspect to create a more defined view of actions relating to lying and truth-telling.
After analyzing this article it seemed as though increasing the cognitive load made the suspects signs of truth-telling or lying more pronounced and easily detected. It seemed as though when the subjects were given more difficult ways of telling their story and given the opportunity to tell the truth or lie, it was much more difficult to mask the guilt of lying. I found it interesting that in multiple areas there was a pronounced difference in the ability to mask the lies and when the subjects were merely telling the truth. Although the research and experimentation went as well as expected, these ideas must be tested in real world situations to account for different people and different states of mind as well as many other variances between people.
One of the most popular and most debated methods of “Lie Detection” is the polygraph test. There are many different opinions as to why it is a good test to administer and how accurate it can be, but it is also debated because of the bias it causes. One article specifically poses and attempts to answer the question, “Does the confession criterion in case selection inflate polygraph accuracy (Krapohl, Kendall, Andrew, 2002)?” This journal article specifically examines the detectability of guilty suspects who confessed versus guilty suspects who were caught by other means. What is discovered by this study is compared to thestudy done by Patrick and Lacono in 1991. Similar field samples were used for both studies, but one controversy could lie in the scoring method used in each study. Patrick and Lacono used human blind scorers whereas the study done by Krapohl, Kendall and Andrew used an objected automated scoring system, so some of the discrepancies may have come from human error. At the end of the study, it was determined that the results for each subject were very similar not creating enough evidence to determine that confession inflates polygraph accuracy, but infact validates that confession does have an influence in the matter.
It would seem to me after reading the article that at first glance the confession aspect of a polygraph test would make or break the suspect. What intrigued me was that even though researchers know polygraph test can be beaten and a guilty suspect made seem innocent, people who do not seem guilty after a polygraph test are not subjected to interrogation. If interrogation were used after every polygraph test just to solidify the results I think it would prove to be worthwhile. With all of the deteriorating factors of a polygraph test it would be unfortunate if a suspect who was in fact guilty got away with a crime because he was able to beat the polygraph test and avoid interrogation.
In an article by Keens Hiu Van Cheng and Roderic Broadhurst, these men organize an experiment to test “behavioral differences in the detection of deception arising from investigative interviews conducted in either a first of second language (Cheng, Broadhurst 2005).” In their experiments it was clear that it was much easier to lie or disguise cues when lying when speaking in their second language. Interestingly enough when analyzing cues, there were more mistakes when determining if the subject was telling the truth when speaking in their second language.
After reading this article I feel like I can relate to why the results ended the way they did. When speaking ones second language it is often difficult to say everything you want without pausing and thinking about the next few words to utter. It seems as though in those few seconds trying to figure out how to say a certain term, when being interrogated it is difficult to mask the feelings of guilt. While a person using their first language just naturally is able to in essence lie without thinking about it, when speaking in their second language it’s is difficult enough just to think in the second language let alone attempt to hide a certain fact without thinking about it.
Technology with regards to lie detection has an exciting but very skeptical future. In an article in the Nature Reviews: Neuroscience Journal written by Christopher deCharms, the use of fMRI brain scans to pinpoint the chemical reaction happening in the brain when telling the truth and when lying. It is already possible to do this today according to the article, but “There is a great difference between demonstrating differences across a group of study participants in a carefully controlled fMRI experiment and detecting lies reliably in a single individual in real world settings in which people might have a strong incentive not to cooperate (deCharms, 2008).” However, this is an amazing discovery and has countless applications. The article by deCharms mentions two private companies that hope to use this technology.
It seems as though today attempting to use this method for the purposes of lie detection poses certain questions. Using an fMRI brain scan requires a certain amount of cooperation and isn’t exactly cheap. A person who might be guilt in a certain case might not be willing to cooperate with the process of performing the fMRI. Another issue that could arise is that everyone is different and in order to get accurate results form a particular person there needs to be a pretest in which is absolutely objective and truthful or else the results of the fMRI won’t be accurate.
The last article I reviewed was one by Mark Hansen of the ABA Journal. Hansen wrote of lie detection and its impact on our lives today and its future applications. One unique perspective of lie detection Hansen reviewed is one that can be viewed on television every week. The show “Lie to Me” is based on the ideas of Paul Ekman and his research of “fleeting micro-expressions on a subject’s face, which… can detect deception with substantial accuracy (Hansen, 2009).” Although Ekman’s research of facial expressions is mainly known today for the television program “Lie to Me,” his work “establishing the universality of some primary human facial expressions, such as anger, disgust, fear and joy (Hansen, 2009)” is used for a behavioral screening technique at a few U.S. airports.
The applications for Ekman’s work are incredible to imagine. If anyway once perfected were going to work it would be through the use of micro-expressions. Just imagine having what seems to be a harmless meeting with a person who happens to be studying your every expression. Using this method it wouldn’t require any contact, not much cooperation, and would be very effective if perfected. This would be the ideal way for “Lie Detection” in my opinion.
Lie detection is an area that is a very popular study within the law enforcement agencies around the world. All of the technology being created to develop a better lie detector is progressing rapidly to a point where it is almost ready to be implemented with a bit more testing. It is exciting to see the vast applications of this technology and the efficiency it could have in the near future given the technology we already have and the new technology that is created and improved every day. It is interesting to me that although we have all this new technology the easiest and most efficient way of lie detection is one that still needs work but can be the most effective is one that began its strides 50 years ago.

Cheng, K. H., & Broadhurst, R. (2005). The Detection of Deception: The Effects of First and Second Language on Lie Detection Ability. Psychiatry, psychology, and law, 12(1), 107-118.
DeCharms, C. (2008). Applications of real-time fMRI. Nature Reviews: Neuroscience, 9, 720-729.
Hansen, M. (2009). True lies: cutting-edge technology has renewed the search for a better lie detector. Some show promise, but they have yet to be tested in court.. ABA Journal, 95(10), 56-62.
Krapochi, D., Kendall, S., & Andrew, R. (2002). Does the confession criterion in case selection inflate polygraph accuracy estimates?. Forensic Science Communications, 4.3. Retrieved April 18, 2011, from the Academic Onefile Web database.
Vrij, A., Fisher, R., Mann, S., & Leal, S. (2008). A Cognitive Load Approach to Lie Detection. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 5, 39-43.…...

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