Dutch psychologists have recently published a simple technique for detecting if someone is a liar. Its effectiveness has been tested in several experiments. The secret lies in the level of specificity of the statements made by the interlocutor.
Nearly 80% of the time, we are successful
You suspect a friend of lying when he tells you he had a great weekend. You suspect his words are false, but you can’t be sure. A technique published in Nature human behaviour on March 20, 2023, can be used to tell if someone has lied with near-optimal efficiency. The University of Amsterdam’s psychology researchers focuses on the detail of the speaker’s speech.
Scientists hypothesized that an accurate description of a place, date and people in the story could be used to verify the truthfulness of the story. If not, the speech was likely fabricated. This method is estimated to have a success rate near 80%.
The best lie detector
The experts conducted nine experiments with 1,445 volunteers to prove their theory. Participants were asked to comment on video transcripts, live interviews, and written statements. This content was about students who pretended to fly before telling lies or those who took a stroll on campus before telling their truth.
Researchers asked some volunteers to concentrate on one clue: the level of detail in the story they were told. The details included the description of the location, the events, and any people or objects present. The volunteers who were not given any instructions received no instruction. According to the results, participants who concentrated on these details achieved accuracy between 59-79%. The results of the other participants were random, i.e. due solely to chance.
Experts do not get the precision they need to distinguish between right and wrong by focusing on multiple cues. The same is true for polygraphs or lie detectors. The level of detail that a suspect gives in their story leaves less room for stereotypes and chance than professionals currently use.