They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but researchers are still trying to prove that theory wrong when it comes to the human face. Researchers around the world since the beginning of time, from CIA analysts to suspicious wives, have been trying to figure out if the cover of the human face carries with it any secret “tells” of deception. Some people dedicate their entire lives to it. The theory being, if human behavior is so predictable, what predictors are there of the human trait known as “deception”? Whoever ultimately bottles up that secret will be a very wealthy person indeed. According to a News Every Day report Sept. 23, a group out of the University of Western Australia thinks that deception can actually be judged on facial features alone.
In this study, it was found that men were able to judge the character of a woman, just by looking at pictures of her. The study was run by Dr. Samantha Leivers of the University. She showed male participants a series of 17 cards. On each card were two pictures, and each card was matched on variables of age and race demographics.
On each card, one picture was the picture of a woman who had previously admitted to infidelity on a research questionnaire. And the other picture was of a woman who had not ever committed infidelity, according to the same questionnaire. Dr. Leivers found that the men were correct in identifying the cheaters 59% of the time according to the Telegraph this week.
Dr. Leivers believes that it is the micro-expressions in the face that men pick up unconsciously that led them to make the picks accurately almost 60% of the time. She thinks this result is statistically significant, but admits that it does need some strength. It’s a positive result for her, this initial research was intended as a stepping stone for future research on the topic.
Now Dr. Leivers wants to know what those micro-expressions are, and what the research participants are bringing to the table emotionally that is similar across the sample pool. Variables she will be examining in future research include micro-expressions of emotions, and that connection between an emotion and a facial expressive response. Participants “judgements” of faithfulness will also be assessed in future study.
It’s a small footing in the door of what could be ground breaking research. But it’s not the first of its kind. And it’s not going to be very helpful to you right now if you are trying to figure out if someone is cheating or not. Fortunately, picking up on deception “tells” on the human face alone has been a subject of intrigue and research to many for some time.
Author Kayjay Williams writes in her book “Body Language Cues of a Cheating Partner” that there are certain facial cues that are deception tells of a cheating partner. She notes color change and temperature change of individuals that are telling a lie. A face will become suddenly flushed, or go pale, when answering a question with a lie.
Clammy palms are another clue, Williams says. But it’s important to note that sweaty palms could also be a cue that someone is just nervous around you because they really like you a lot. If the hands go cold however, that’s a change in heart rate and cardiovascular activity that is happening because someone is not telling the truth.
The phrase “cold feet” was coined for this reason, to signify someone was ducking out of something because of a secret. Williams also notes that cheaters work very hard to control their answers, and their facial expressions, knowing if you are already suspicious you are looking for these tells. So she says to note monotone voice response, if the inflections are dialed down that’s a sign that someone is trying to control the story.
It’s a common tactic taught in military training. If you are caught and put on tape, the monotone voice is a signal to your country that you are okay. Williams says that another thing that cheaters do is stall for time when you are asking them questions. “The bar? What bar? What are you talking about?” She also says that someone that puts their fingers on their lips while they are talking to you is creating a barrier between you and the truth.
Forbe’s Magazine interviewed former CIA veterans and authors of “Spy the Lie” a few years ago and came up with very similar results as well. The book is authored by CIA vets, Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero. It is also co-authored by a journalist and former NSA analyst, Don Tennant. This is a collection of people that interview people for a living, and can spot deception and cheaters a mile away.
An interesting thing that this collection of authors notes is that, most humans are not instinctively prone to lie. They say, most humans instinctively tell the truth. But there are behaviors that offer clues.
These authors say, how an individual responds to being accused of something is very telling. They say you can tell within 5 seconds whether or not someone is lying, if you know what to look for. If you ask them if they were at the bar last night, how do they respond?
The CIA analysts say an innocent person will say, “I wasn’t there. Why do you ask?” But someone that was there would say, “I swear I didn’t go, come to my car and I will show you everything that I did last night and all of my receipts that prove I’m not lying.” In other words, these authors assert that humans will try and respond with a truth to avoid getting caught in a lie or a crime.
Forbe’s reported that an example they use is that when Dick Cheney was asked if he used the “F” word with a fellow Senator when Senate was in session. He did, and the whole world knew that he did. When he was asked directly he did not lie about it. He said, “That’s not the kind of language I usually use.” If a cheater went to the bar last night, they will tell you something truthful such as, “Oh I hate that bar!” or “Here’s my receipt from dinner.”
Another clue these professional interviewers assert is the individual pretending not to understand what the question is. They assert for example if you ask your spouse if they went to the bar last night and get, “The bar?” like they’ve never heard of this kind of establishment in their life, it could be a deception clue. The example cited was when President Clinton appeared before the Independent Counsel in 1997 regarding a woman named Monica Lewinsky.
Every body language and deception expert on the planet knew he was lying when he answered the question. The question was, is this a false statement: “Counsel is fully aware that Ms. Lewinsky has filed, has an affidavit which they are in possession of saying that there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape, or form, with President Clinton.”
President Clinton had his fingers over his lips a lot in that interview. He was asked to answer truthfully, was that statement false or not? He said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Really? And those are just a few of the nonverbal facial expression that can give a lead on whether or not someone is being deceptive. The University of Western Australia is expected to release more research on the topic in the near future. Watch the now famous video of President Clinton using non-verbal gestures to try and convince America that he was not a cheater.