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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 18-May-12

 


Friday 18-May-12

Truth, lies and drawings

Detection of lies is a perpetual problem for many people and none more so than law-enforcement officers. If a person has been taken in for questioning, they are likely to claim innocence, including if they are a hardened criminal. So what can the officers do to detect lying?

A new method for lie detection was proven by researcher Aldert Vrij and colleagues who sent 31 police and military personnel on a 'mission' to pick up a package from an 'agent' and then deliver it somewhere else. Afterwards, half were told to lie and all were asked to draw a picture of the pick-up location.

The big difference between the pictures was that most truth-tellers put the agent in the picture whilst most liars did not. In fact this was so effective a method, 80 per cent of truth-tellers and 87 per cent of liars could correctly be identified based on this factor alone. Also, 53 per cent of truth-tellers did a drawing from their own, first-person perspective, whilst 81 per cent of liars used a birds-eye view.

What is happening here is that the 'criminal' is mentally removing themselves from the scene. This also can be detected in other methods, for example where a verbal description may well include less or no mention of the person themselves. What is impressive about the drawing method is the high success rate, making it more powerful in practice.

Reference:
Vrij, A., Leal, S., Mann, S., Warmelink, L., Granhag, P., & Fisher, R. (2010). Drawings as an innovative and successful lie detection tool. Applied Cognitive Psychology


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