Friday, November 19, 2010

Does Statement Analysis Apply to Other Languages?

Figure With Hands To Ears

I got a great email the other day:

I'm a frequent reader of your blog, and the "be like me" part on your site is very good. It gave me a good base where to start.

I've been reading a lot of books about body language and tried to put them in practice, it's amazing what you normally would miss.

But now I was about to start the book "I know you are lying", but does this also apply to other languages?

Great question!

Yes and no. Love getting the ultimate non answer?!?!

This is what I found in my years researching deception. Whenever I clearly hear someone lie, it is like I can trace it back to the origins of lying.

We all learn to lie- and the benefits and consequences of lying- at a very early age. These lessons carry forward into adulthood.

Remember when confronted by a parent about eating a cookie?  Instinctively (and through trial and error) we knew we would not get away with the lie but we go ahead and deny it.  Somewhere along the way we also learned, because it was only a cookie, so we might say 'no' but with a slightly playful and mischievous smile because it is unlikely we will receive a severe punishment.  We also know if we vehemently deny eating the cookie we risk making our parent even more angry, so we do not to scream that we did not eat the cookie.

I see differnent 'lying styles' in many of the lies I detect, and if you understand a couple of things about lying, being able to use statement analysis in other language works.  Here are a few:

  • People who have done something wrong have a hard time confidently denying their actions.
  • People will attempt to misdirect and often will leave critical sections out of their explanations. Text bridges are in every language (a text bridge is key words that signal there may be a gap in a their story.  My clearest example I use all the time is a statement, "I saw him standing there, then the next thing I know he is laying on the ground with blood coming out of his chest."  The text bridge is the 'then' and this shows us something happened between the two parts of the statement; in the above statement the man did not include that he shot the man- a fully truthful statement would have been, "I saw him standing there, I shot him and he fell down, and he was laying on the ground with blood coming out of his chest." 
  • If people are given simple yes and no questions- in any language- and they do not answer with a simple yes or no, it is a signal that more follow questions may be necessary.
  • Lying takes more thought than simply stating the truth.  When we are thinking of what really happened and what we are willing to say about what happened, we often make mistakes and those trained in detecting deception can see the subtle differences in word choices and the pace that the words are delivered.
  • There are many more (feel free to insert others in the comment section of the post so others can see more examples).
Now onto the your future work in statement analysis.  My advice to you is: go ahead and learn about statement analysis in English, then write your own book using specific examples using your own language.  The exercise will make you much better at detecting deception, and you may be a successful author and lecturer in your own country. Good luck.◦


Kevin Koch said...

Great site. I've just started to read it, and you're covering a topic that I love to learn about.

When I read the statement, "People who have done something wrong have a hard time confidently denying their actions." I had a cautionary thought. We need to be careful about signs that are 'sensitive' without being 'specific.'

This is a medical idea. In making a diagnosis, one looks for signs. A patient with a high fever may have bacterial meningitis, a life-threatening condition. This is a 'sensitive' sign, because if fever is absent then we can pretty much rule out bacterial meningitis. Fever is present in about 99% of cases of bacterial meningitis.

On the other hand, fever is not a 'specific' sign of meningitis. Fevers occur in a huge variety of illnesses, some very serious, some not so serious, and most of which are not bacterial meningitis.

A sign that is sensitive but not specific is what you might call a 'rule-out' sign. In your example, if someone speaks with confidence, it tells us they are less likely to be lying. But if someone is speaking without confidence, it may be because they are simply anxious for a huge variety of reasons, and might have nothing to do with their truthfulness.

I'm sure as I read though your posts I'll see that you've covered this idea, so I apologize if I'm coming off as a critic. I'll be recommending this site to my animation students.