While the science advances, observing eye contact and body movement are the top telltale ways to look for liars. Police are trained to analyze these visual cues and to compare verbal and non-verbal responses during ‘small talk’. Plus they often use a list of questions where liars will often answer while exposing cues.
But these methods are not usually accurate.
Professor Aldert Vrij conducted the ‘Interviewing to Detect Deception’ study to find that liars are convincingly adept.
He also found detection can truly be improved by increasing the cognitive load, “… by asking them to tell their stories in reverse order.”
Professor Vrij explained:
“Lying takes a lot of mental effort in some situations, and we wanted to test the idea that introducing an extra demand would induce additional cues in liars. Analysis showed significantly more non-verbal cues occurring in the stories told in this way and, tellingly, police officers shown the interviews were better able to discriminate between truthful and false accounts.”
Research in the use of lie detection is important. MotherJones discovered in 2002 that government employees are routinely subjected to tests that can ruin careers.