Practical Steps for Detecting Deception

Detecting deception is a complex task, and it is important to remember that our ability to accurately detect lies is limited. Gathering information from multiple sources, considering nonverbal cues, and employing these practical strategies can enhance your chances of detecting deception and making more informed judgments.

Josh Ether

6/5/20201 min read

  1. Increase cognitive load: When suspecting someone of deception, you can increase their cognitive load by asking them to perform a second task while they're talking to you. This can lead to more mistakes or leakage of additional information. For example, asking them to remember unrelated details or multitasking during the conversation.

  2. Meet in person: Meeting face-to-face provides advantages for detecting deception. It increases cognitive load and allows you to observe nonverbal cues more accurately. People are also less likely to lie in person as they find the interpersonal dynamics more anxiety-provoking. However, be cautious as meeting in person can also provide deceivers with an opportunity to gauge your gullibility.

  3. Pay attention to the environment: The environment plays a crucial role in detecting deception. Be aware of who else is present, what distractions are around, and any potential influences on the conversation. These factors can impact cognitive load and provide valuable context for detecting deception.

  4. Search broadly for behavioral patterns: Look for consistency or inconsistencies in how people act across different domains. Pay attention to their behavior in other situations or their interactions with others. Someone who boasts about deceptive behavior in one aspect of their life may raise concerns about their honesty in general.

  5. Pretest with known answers: To gauge someone's honesty, ask questions you already know the answers to. Observe how forthcoming and honest they are in their responses. This can provide insights into their truthfulness and help establish a baseline for comparison.

  6. Utilize recorded interviews: If possible, record interviews or conversations. This allows you to review the interaction later, focusing on nonverbal cues without distractions. Analyzing nonverbal behaviors or employing computer text analysis techniques can provide additional clues related to deception.

  7. Confronting a liar: When confronting someone suspected of deception, consider the context and relative status. In situations where you lack authority or power, take a softer approach. Suggest that there might be more they want to say or ask open-ended questions to encourage elaboration. Offer them a way to save face and exit the situation without triggering a hostile response.