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What Interviewers and Interrogators Are Missing

Lie Signs and Hen’s Teethinterviewers adn interogators, lie signs, body language

What Interviewers and Interrogators may be missing

For nearly 50 years there has been a fundamental belief that those people who commit the act of deception will exhibit a plethora of telltale non-verbal cues. Interviewing and interrogation courses have taught over five decades that fidgeting, grooming, hand wringing, sweating, breaks in eye contact and even eye movement were just some of the purported undeniable cues that someone was lying. Unfortunately the overwhelming results of empirical research on deception, has debunked a very large majority of non-verbal cues as reliable signs of deception.

Body Language Cues Are Not Working

Several empirical studies confirm that focusing on body language results in poor detection of deception. Lie signs that subjects may generate during interviewing and interrogation are apparently rare and very faint signals. This is most likely the very reason the majority of people including interviewers and interrogators tend to perform very poorly at spotting deception.

Free ebook Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®: A Basic Guide

Big Foot is alive and well! Not!

Peer reviewed research published by Aldert Virj has shown that people in fact do not generate what he calls “stereotypical signs” of nervousness behavior during their attempt to deceive. He found this to be true even though the individual may be experiencing a high level of “detection anxiety” or the fear of getting caught lying. Virj further found that investigators who focused primarily on the body language cues during interviewing and interrogation to spot deception developed a very strong “lie bias.” In empirical research, this is referred to as “confirmation bias.” This is especially true for the multitude of body language myths perpetuated in law enforcement academy training materials. If you think you’re going prove that Big Foot exists, then every single snapped twig or unusual noise in the woods is a sign that Big Foot is real.

Could Verbal Cues Be More Reliable?

When put to the test, in general interviewers and interrogators who focus more on speech cues for diagnosing deception perform better than those watching for the myth-based body language cues. However, another contributing factor to missing verbal cues to deception are the many myths about verbal signs of deception. Such cues as stuttering, stammering, stalling, “ah” “er” “um” and “uh”, laughing, voice pitch and many many more have been proven unreliable.

Hen’s Teeth and Lie Signs

It would appear that verbal and nonverbal signs of deception are quite rare. To complicate matters even more, they have a very short duration which overall makes them hard to spot. Ekman, et al and their work on micro expressions have overwhelming proved that point. The job of the interviewer therefore is cover topics thoroughly and perhaps even repetitively. If the interviewer or interrogator hopes to spot any signs of deception, then they need to focus more not only on what they hear but also ask questions that are very focused and will energize the subject’s efforts to maintain deception making the cues stand out. In other words, the better the questions and the more thorough the coverage the better chance the interviewer will have at spotting deception. Otherwise deception cues from a subject will be as rare as hen’s teeth!

Watch Stan’s You Tube Video on Hen’s Teeth & Lie Signs

Hen's Teeth & Lie Signs | Tip #31 of 101 Interviewing and Interrogation Tips

Interviewing and Interrogation: Bizarre Training Course

Interviewing and Interrogation: The Trap of Too Many Choices | Tip # 21 of 101 Tips

Interviewing and Interrogation

The “trap” of giving too many choices.

Without a doubt, there is no such thing as a perfect interviewing and interrogation session. Smart interviewers however, will learn from their mistakes and should be doing extensive reading and research to human behaviors, reaction and response behaviors and most importantly how to use ethical and effective persuasion tactics. One pitfall that can be avoided is overwhelming a subject with too many choices to make during any interviewing and interrogation event.

Okay, I’ll admit that one of my favorite desserts is cheesecake.  I love cheesecake! Unfortunately, my problem is I’ve probably never met a cheesecake recipe that I didn’t like.  Therein lies the problem!  As you can imagine, a trip to the “Cheesecake Factory” can be a nightmare for me.  So many choices, so little time, and the futility of guarding my waistline. The problem (albeit a good one!) is that the Cheese Cake Factory has so many good cheese cake variations and I can’t decide.  Eventually when I do decide, there is always that nagging question in my mind “Wonder if that “other one” was really good?”

The same problem exists during an interviewing and interrogation session.  As the interviewer, there is often the urge to “overwhelm” the subject with every piece of evidence and information we have at our disposal.  The end goal being that the subject will feel it is futile to even resist saying “No” to our overtures for cooperation or an admission or even confession.  The is invariably true during “guilt assumptive” or “accusatory” styles of interviewing and interrogation.  The end result is often non-productive.

When a subject is overloaded during interviewing and interrogation, three things will happen:

  1. Your subject will be frustrated because they are being face with too many choices at one time.
  2. Because the subject is faced with too many choices, the decision making time frame is exponentially extended.  This often triggers the interviewer to push that much harder.
  3. When a person overwhelmed with choices and feels they are being pushed to a decision their first instinctive reaction is to survive and reject all the choices.

During any interviewing and interrogation scenario, only offer your subject one issue at a time to consider.  Resolve the issue and only put it aside if absolutely necessary before you bring up a new issue.  Your overall results will be faster and more positive.

Watch Tip # 21 of 101 Tips for Interviewers and Interrogators and learn more!

interviewing and interrogation video tips

Interviewing and Interrogation: Do You “Google” Your Subject? | Tip # 18 of 101 Tips

Interviewing and Interrogation Scene

Interviewing and Interrogation:

Have you ever thought about “Googling” your subject?

Extensive research has shown that lie signs are in fact quite rare during interviewing and interrogation.  The signs a subject may possibly generate are very faint “signals” and are very brief which makes them hard to spot.  We know that during the interviewing and interrogation of subjects, that even though the subject may be experiencing a high level of “detection anxiety”, they don’t exhibit a large volume of deception signals. 

This is especially true for the stereotypical body language cues that investigators have been taught to look for for decades. In fact, by focusing the majority of their attention on body language lie signs, observers fall victim to “confirmation bias” and can make very egregious errors in spotting deception.  I call it “The Big Foot Syndrome.”  If you “think” you’re going to see signs of Big Foot while you’re out in the woods, then EVERYTHING looks like a sign made by Big Foot! The best and most reliable cues come from verbal content.

Although verbal content is comparatively more reliable than body language cues, detection still requires more effort on the part of the observer / interviewer.

Two things can change the investigator’s success at spotting deception and getting more information during interviewing and interrogation.

  • Don’t focus so much on spotting where the subject is possibly being deceptive.  If you only focus on winning the “you’re lying” battle, the odds are stacked unfavorably against you.  Identify which “topics” seem to give the subject the greatest problems and focus your questions around those issues.
  • As you’re interviewing and interrogation efforts progress, focus your questions around the “topic” areas.  Your goal is to energize any lie symptoms that “may” be present. At the same time, your questions will generate larger amounts of information.

Watch video Tip # 18 “Interviewing and Interrogation | Do You “Google” Your Subject?” and see how you can identify and energize your subject’s hot spots.


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Interviewing and Interrogation |Let the Subject Win the Little Battles | Tip # 10of| 101 Tips

Tip # 10 - Let Subject Win The Little BattlesInterviewing and Interrogation

Letting the Subject Win Little Battles

Tip # 10 - Let Subject Win The Little Battles

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