Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Elizabeth Loftus: Catching Liars

Short piece by Elizabeth Loftus (H/T Neuroethics).
Using gaze aversion to decide that someone is lying can be dangerous for that someone’s health and happiness. And—what was news to me—some cultural or ethnic groups are more likely to show gaze aversion. For example, Blacks are particularly likely to show gaze aversion. So imagine now the problem that might arise when a White police officer interviews a Black suspect and interprets the gaze aversion as evidence of lying. This material needs to be put in the hands of interviewers to prevent this kind of cross-racial misinterpretation.
But all is not hopeless for catching liars, since happily some speech cues are more diagnostic of deception than nonverbal cues are. The authors recommend an ‘‘information gathering’’ approach to interviewing (rather than an accusatory approach). This type of interview will result in more information being gathered than can later be checked for inconsistencies against other available evidence. The authors also recommend asking unanticipated questions. A witness who claims to have been eating lunch at a restaurant might be asked, ‘‘Who finished their meal first?’’ Liars are apparently less likely to say ‘‘I don’t know’’ to unanticipated questions and to offer some answer, possibly because they are afraid that to do otherwise would look suspicious.
Click Here to Read: Catching Liars

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