Telling Lies

Topics: Lie, Concealment, Emotion Pages: 314 (113486 words) Published: March 12, 2010
Paul Ekman



Telling Lies
"This admirable book offers both a wealth of detailed, practical information about lying and lie detection and a penetrating analysis of the ethical implications of these behaviors. It is strongly recommended to physicians, lawyers, diplomats and all those who must concern themselves with detection of deceit." —Jerome D. Frank The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine In this new expanded edition of the author's pathfinding inquiry into the world of liars and lie catching, Paul Ekman, a world-renowned expert in emotions research and nonverbal communication, brings, in two new chapters, his much-publicized findings on how to detect lies to the real world. In new Chapter 9, "Lie Catching in the 1990s," the author reveals that most of those to whom we have attributed an ability to detect lies—judges, trial lawyers, police officers, polygraphers, drug enforcement agents, and others—perform no better on lie-detecting tests than ordinary citizens, that is, no better than chance. In addition, he cites the case of Lt. Col. Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter during the Iran/contra scandal congressional hearings, to demonstrate his judicious use of behavioral clues to detect lies. In Chapter 10, "Lies in Public Life," he incorporates many more real-world case studies—from lying at the presidential level (Richard Nixon and Watergate, and Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War) to self-deception in the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the 1991 Senate judiciary hearings on alleged sexual harassment of Anita Hill by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas—to delineate further his lie-detecting methods as well as to comment on the place of lies in public life. Paul Ekman is professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. Cover design bv Andrew M. Newman Graphic Design

Telling Lies


Emotion in the Human Face (with W. V. Friesen & P. Ellsworth) Darwin and Facial Expression (editor) Unmasking the face (with W. V. Friesen) Facial Action Coding System (with W. V. Friesen) Face of Man Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research (co-editor, with Klaus Scherer) Approaches to Emotion (co-editor, with Klaus Scherer) Why Kids Lie (with Mary Ann Mason & Tom Ekman)


Telling Lies
Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage

W W - N O R T O N & COMPANY -New York-London

Copyright © 1992, 1985 by Paul Ekman. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America. First published as a Norton paperback 1991. Excerpts from Marry Me, by John Updike, are reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1971, 1973, 1976, by John Updike. Photographs on pages 295, 297, 310, 316, 318 courtesy of AP/Wide World Photos. The text of this book is composed in Janson, with display type set in Caslon. Composition by The Haddon Craftsmen, Inc. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Ekman, Paul. Telling Lies. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Truthfulness and falsehood. Psychology. I. Title. BJ1421.E36 1985 153.6 84-7994 ISBN 0-393-30872-3 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10110 W. W. Norton & Company Ltd 10 Coptic Street, London WClA 1PU


In Memory of Erving Goffman, Extraordinary Friend and Colleague

and for my wife, Mary Ann Mason, Critic and Confidante

When the situation seems to be exactly what it appears to be, the closest likely alternative is that the situation has been completely faked; whenfakery seems extremely evident, the next most probable possibility is that nothing fake is present.—Erving Goffman, Strategic Interaction

The relevant framework is not one of morality but of survival. At every level, from brute camouflage to poetic vision, the linguistic capacity to conceal, misinform, leave ambiguous, hypothesize, invent is indispensable to the equilibrium of human consciousness...
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