Body language and lie detection

Here at the office, the staff has become quite adept at looking into people’s eyes and telling when they are lying. Not the sort of thing that makes you popular at parties, and poker games tend to devolve into bloodbaths, but lie detection comes in handy in the detective business.

The Center for Nonverbal Studies Gestures in Spokane WA has compiled a dictionary of Signs & Body Language Cues to get you started. Final exam will be reading the face of Bill Belichick.

Can Johnny Read Nonverbal Cues?

Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece arguing social networking puts younger people at a face-to-face disadvantage. Although younger generations are communicating at a hurried and increased pace with a variety of technological gadgets, many of their communication tools involve the exchange of written words alone. The author argues they "are ever less likely to develop the "silent fluency" that comes from face-to-face interaction. It is a skill that we all must learn, in actual social settings, from people (often older) who are adept in the idiom. As text-centered messaging increases, such occasions diminish. The digital natives improve their adroitness at the keyboard, but when it comes to their capacity to "read" the behavior of others, they are all thumbs."

Interesting observation. In the dozens of successful con artists we have investigated over the years, almost all were described by friends and victims (who were often former friends or lovers) as having highly evolved social skills--charming in all the bad ways. If someone gave off signs saying they were a victim, these guys read that message and pounced.

Reading faces, detecting lies? Not quite...

Paul Ekman's decades of research are the backbone of the Facial Action Coding System. Ekman's books and videos explain that reading facial expressions does not automatically reveal a liar. Microexpressions may be a sign of subterranean emotions, but there is no expression that automatically signals deception.