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'WHO CAN CATCH A LIAR?', Ekman and O'Sullivan, 1991.

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BOOK 3 CRITICAL REVIEW `WHO CAN CATCH A LIAR?', Ekman and O'Sullivan, 1991. What is the definition of lying or indeed deception? Well deception can be defined in many ways, but it was termed by Vrij (Vrij, 2000, p.6) as a successful or unsuccessful deliberate attempt, without forewarning, to create in another a belief, which the communicator considers to be untrue. Telling lies is a daily life event, which varies in quite complex ways depending on the situation the person is in and the person being lied to. People lie for all kinds of reasons. However half the lies are either self-orientated, and are therefore intended to make the liar appear better or to gain personal advantage (DePaulo et al., 1996). Self- orientated lies consist of people lying in order to avoid punishment, to make a positive impression on others or to protect themselves. Some lies are other-orientated, to make another person feel better or for another's benefit. How can you tell if someone is lying to you? People generally believe that nonverbal cues to deception exist and they know what these cues are; but how accurate are people at detecting lies? In laboratory studies concerning detection of deception, observers are given videotaped or audiotaped statements of various people who are either lying or telling the truth. ...read more.


However after the second and the eighth videotape, participants stated their reasons for deciding the honesty or deceptiveness of the interview; to which the written responses were categorised using a coded system. Since some subjects watched a gruesome film instead of a nature film, ethical concerns may be raised. Ethical principles of psychologists and psychological associations state that participants involved in studies should not experience more distress in a experiment than can be reasonably be expected in daily lives. Although the researchers in this study would have taken this into account, it has been failed to mention if whether the women who watched the gruesome films were in any ways distressed. It may therefore be a possibility that signs of deception were more likely to occur when the deceiver (women who watched the gruesome films but lied about their positive feelings of watching a nature film) experienced strong emotions and therefore also induced strong emotions when being recorded on videotape. It needs to be taken into account that nonverbal behaviours reflect feelings or emotions more directly than specific intentions to deceive. Emotions - psychological states - can be considered as intervening variables, relating to inferred intentions and to observed behaviours; as suggested in case of the women watching the gruesome films. The methods and procedures employed in the current research have been clearly and concisely described, with relevant headings and graphs to outline the main aims of the experiment. ...read more.


I thought it was rather fascinating to discover how the authors found that age was negatively correlated with accuracy. At first this seemed counter - intuitive, but then I thought about all the individual differences that can potentially come into play, and how possibly being familiar with the person may make it easier to tell when they are lying, as opposed to unfamiliar people. Maybe this familiarity extends to social/age group as well. Perhaps the older participants had more trouble judging the college age women in the videotapes in part because they are less familiar with the age group and their baseline behaviours they exhibit when not lying. Are there enough cultural differences between age groups for this to be an explanation?. Might these older participants have performed more accurately had the people in the videotapes been closer to their age group? Issues such as the above have failed to be examined or indeed discussed in the appropriate section of the study, therefore this could be an area that could be further explored in the future. On the whole in conclusion, the study has established the extent to which people are able to detect lies by observing physiological responses. Mistakes in lie detection are inevitable, but perhaps with the correct training, experience and motivation we may become specialists in detecting lies. But is this possible?. In my opinion in both theoretical and practical terms; this is a sound work on a vital subject. Although room for further research is needed. ...read more.

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