Monday, October 09, 2006

Liar, liar

Psychologists are often asked to help the police detect liars. And, contrary to what some so-called experts say, there is no reliable way to detect lies from just eye movements or whether you touch your nose or anything like that.

However, here's an interesting bit of research for you. Police officers instructed to pick out 'who you believe is thinking hard' tended to spot liars versus truth-tellers more accurately than when they were asked to spot 'who you think is lying'.

And, if you want to put the pressure on, then increase the cognitive demand for the person you think is lying. A study by Professor Aldert Vrij at the University of Portsmouth found that it's easier to spot liars when you ask them to recite the elements of their story in reverse order than in normal order.

So there you have it. Look for someone who is thinking hard. And if you think they are thinking hard, get them to tell you their (alleged?) tale again - backwards.

Happy lie spotting!