How to tell if someone is lying

It may be easier to tell if someone is lying when you cannot see their face, new research finds.

 Contrary to most people’s expectations, being able to see someone’s full face does not help lie detection.

In fact, it actually hurts it.

Dr Amy-May Leach, the study’s first author, explained that the reason may be because it helps people focus on important cues:

“The presence of a veil may compel observers to pay attention to more ‘diagnostic’ cues, such as listening for verbal indicators of deception.”

The finding emerges from a study of the wearing of veils in court.

Witnesses appearing in US, UK and Canadian courts are not allowed to wear a niqab (covering the whole body except for the eyes) or hijab (covering the head and neck).

This is partly because judges believe it is necessary to see the face to tell if someone is lying.

Dr Leach, though, explained that they thought this was wrong:

“We hypothesized that lie detection accuracy would be higher in the niqab condition than in the hijab or no-veil conditions because it would minimize the availability of misleading cues to deception.

It was only when witnesses wore veils (i.e., hijabs or niqabs) that observers performed above chance levels.

Thus, veiling actually improved lie detection.”

The researchers conducted two experiments with a total of 523 participants.

They compared people’s ability to detect lies when witnesses were wearing a hijab or a niqab or neither.

The researchers explained the results:

“Contrary to the assumptions underlying the court decisions cited earlier, lie detection was not hampered by veiling across two studies.

In fact, observers were more accurate at detecting deception in witnesses who wore niqabs or hijabs than those who did not veil.

Discrimination between lie- and truth-tellers was no better than guessing in the latter group, replicating previous findings.”

The study was published in the journal Law and Human Behavior(Leach et al., 2016).

from PsyBlog


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