Is Someone Lying? South Coast Researcher Says We Have Misconceptions About Detecting Deception

Jul 13, 2018

Can you tell if someone is telling you a little fib, or a big lie? You might think you have the answer, but an expert on the subject says you probably are wrong. Norah Dunbar is a UC Santa Barbara communications professor who’s been studying deception detection for two decades. Dunbar is the author of a new study on the subject, which shows video games could be an important new training tool.

She says the false ideas about telling whether someone is lying are in some cases actually boomeranging. She says people think one giveaway is if someone won’t make eye contact. But, Dunbar says some people who know about the eye contact myth have gotten good at using that to fool people.

The UCSB researcher has been using video games to look at ways to improve detection skills. So, what are some better indicators someone is lying? Dunbar says the key in detecting deception comes from finding a series of cues.

She says the research funded by the National Science Foundation is just a prototype.

Dunbar says that people who played the game were able to improve their accuracy in detecting deception by more than 10%. Both college students and law enforcement officers were test subjects, and law enforcement officers actually showed the biggest jump in accuracy.

The research findings were just published in the scientific journal Computers in Human Behavior.