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UEL research has contributed to a study which suggests that people who aren’t telling the truth use less hand movement, which is further influenced by an increased risk of detection.
The study, which has been published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, provides a protocol for identifying cues to deception.
When attempting to lie, a person’s non verbal behaviour is often influenced by a wide range of variables including the surrounding area, the degree of risk involved and the complexity of the task.
UEL psychology expert Dr Lara Frumkin, along with principal investigator Matt Jones from the University of Swansea, and Ke Zhang, a PhD student from the University of Warwick,carried out a series of studies to test common knowledge of nonverbal behaviour traits against three different scenarios:
To test the first two scenarios participants were given specific information to share with an audience and instructed to either tell the truth or lie. To increase the risk of deception, only a proportion of the participants were made aware that they were being evaluated by the audience on whether they were telling the truth or not. A scenario that resembled a security control point was created for the third test in order to analyse the participant’s observational behaviour of their surroundings whilst carrying out deception.
The findings revealed that deceivers would present different amounts of observable body movements when compared to truth-tellers, and those who were being evaluated by peers portrayed fewer hand/arm movements than those who weren’t.
However, the researchers also found that truth-tellers similarly portrayed a reduction in hand movement when placed under higher risk conditions, enhancing the risk of misjudgement.
Dr Frumkin explains: “The trend in limb movement reductions indicates nonverbal cues in relation to negative emotions and behavioural control, whereas the increased positive affect observed in liars provides evidence of positive emotions associated with deception.
“Our results indicate a pattern of hand movement reduction by deceivers’ behaviours, and suggest the notion that raising the risk of detection influences deceivers’ behaviours.”