My research topic focuses on how people who work in the field of law enforcement
detect deception. Whether it be through interrogations or consensual encounters. I have a really
strong interest in this topic because I am currently working towards a degree in Administration of
Justice. I want to work as a police officer and eventually work my way into the DEA (Drug
Enforcement Administration). I also have a couple of family members working in law
enforcement who have introduced me to many police officers, which really encourages me to get
into the field. Police officers are constantly getting lied to, and it very important to learn the
skills necessary to determine whether or not someone is telling the truth or not. This is very
important to interpersonal communication because it can tell you a lot about a person and what
happens to your body physically when you tell a lie. My question is: “How do law enforcement
personnel detect deception from communication senders?”
I wanted to find the all the ways police officers detect lies. It pretty much boiled down to
two methods. Looking at body language and micro-expressions, and the polygraph test.
Whenever you tell a lie your body behaves in a different way both internally and externally.
There is also a new way researches have found to detect deception. Using a form of brain
scanning you can detect patterns of deceit. It is rarely used because the technology is not where it
should be. However, it does have the potential to make the polygraph obsolete within the next
There are several ways to tell if someone is lying to you just by talking to them. The most
common tell is when someone touches their face or ears a lot when talking to you. Another way
to tell is when the person cannot maintain eye contact. It is very difficult to look someone
straight in the eye while lying to them. It has also been shown in studies that liars tend skip
contraction and say “ I did not” instead of “I didn’t”. The only problem with these is that they are
very unreliable and you need to spot multiple actions to tell if someone is lying and even then
you can’t be positive. Everyone is different, which means just because I can’t look someone in
their eyes and lie to them, doesn’t mean you can’t. Furthermore, it is hard for a lot of people to
maintain eye contact while carrying on normal conversations. Personally, that is something I
struggled with a lot up until recently. So, there are many reasons for the way someone may be
acting or talking and you can’t just accuse them of being a liar.
Another common form of lie detection has to do with micro-expressions. Which are a
much more reliable detection method than analyzing body language. Micro-expressions are split
second expressions that you make on your face while talking. They are very difficult to pick up
unless you are trained and have had a lot of practice doing it. I remember watching a video in
class by Paul Ekman on the same topic, but even before that one of my relatives who works in
law enforcement and has done several interrogations told me all about it. I’m paraphrasing, but
he basically said you need to look at the micro-expressions and compare them to what the person
is saying or hearing, and that’s how you tell if the person is lying to you. For example, if
someone is telling you something and you see a distressed expression on that person’s face, that
is a good indication that person could be lying. From what I recall that seems to line up with
what Paul Ekman discussed in his video more or less.
I also stumbled upon a study that was done to...
Cited: Bond, Gary D. “Deception Detection Expertise.” Law and Human Behavior, Vol 32(4), Aug,
2008. pp. 339-351. EBSCO. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
Honts, Charles R. “Psychophysiological Detection of Deception.” Current Directions in
Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell); Jun94, Vol. 3 Issue 3, p77-82, 6p. EBSCO.
Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
McLachlan, Justin. "Will Brain-Scanning Lie Detectors Free the Innocent or Jail Them?" Popular
Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.
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