Forensic psychologist Stephen Porter looks for truth in the nonverbal cues
Forensic psychologist Stephen Porter, of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at the Okanagan campus, studies deception detection, criminal behaviour, psychopathic personality and behavioural cues to deception. He is a much-sought after expert by law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and national media organizations.
What are some of the behavioural or “body language” cues a person displays when lying?
When lying, a person may display emotional “leakage” in facial expressions that is inconsistent with the context, such as a microexpression of happiness or anger when distress is being expressed. They also may reveal their deception in their body language by acting more controlled and restrained than usual. The person may communicate an emotion that is inconsistent with their story, for example, showing behavioural signs of fear when claiming innocence, or distracting attention from the story with hand gestures.
How can a workplace manager assess how truthful a subordinate is being?
People are pretty poor lie detectors in general, but improved technology and extensive research has allowed for people to become more accurate lie detectors. A reliance on facial expression reading, knowledge of the body language associated with deception, and the strategies that liars use can enhance an individual’s ability to detect lies. Not only should the manager actively look for cues to deception, he or she should be aware of his or her own biases, such as the “truth bias” that most people hold that leads them to believe that most of the stories they are told are true. One important goal for managers is to learn to “read” their workers’ non-verbal behaviour in a more skilled way.