Nonverbal Cues to Deception Analysis

Nonverbal Cues to Deception Analysis

Ross Baxter




Deception is a fiend that runs rampant throughout humanity, with no discrimination towards race, gender, culture, or nationality. Regardless of origin, technological advancement within a given culture, or any given variable, humans innately lie and deceive. But within this diverse background, there are commonelements that are similar in almost all cases of deception; and although these elements, or “expressions” can be restricted, it takes a skilled deceiver to successfully master these to the point where detection can be eluded. 


In an article titled “Nonverbal Communication and Deception: Differences in Deception Cues Due to Gender and Communicator Dominance”, authored by Michael J. Cody and H.Dan O’Hair, the theory presented by Hocking and Leathers is explored. The argument made by Hocking and Leathers is contrary to original theories of deceptive behavior; instead of avoiding eye contact, Hocking and Leathers claim that liars will subconsciously make strained eye contact, almost to a point that is obviously exaggerated. Leg and eye movement, as well as other macro-expressions of anxiety, will be overemphasized. More experienced deceivers will be aware of these exaggerations, which often results in an overcompensation of reduced movement. According to Hocking and Leathers, these expressions of anxiety are increased when dealing with an “expert” interviewer, whereas less effort to conceal these movements is reduced when dealing with an interviewer that is perceived as “novice”. 


Within the sphere of communicator dominance, deception analysis and detection can be assumed with the examination of statement latency and message duration. With the presence of extended message duration, the signs of deception become clear through external reactions. The majority of case study subjects had different reactions during deception due to their gender. “Males typically engage in more leg/foot movement, more illustrators, and less eye contact than females. While the general hypothesis is that both male and female liars will suppress leg/foot movement and illustrators when lying and maintain a sufficient amount of eye contact when lying in order not to appear to be a liar, the gender differences in interactions suggest that significant differences between truth-telling and lying responses would depend, in part, on gender”(Cody 180). It can be anticipated that during truthful communication, males will exhibit a higher rate of leg and foot movement, and a normal rate of eye contact; but in the case study of deceptive communication, men will overcompensate to conceal these movements. Women, subsequently, will display a more even rate of eye contact, yet will still have active movement in their feet and legs.


In conclusion, the differences between deceivers and truth-tellers lies strongly in the types of expressions their bodies exert, and the efforts they make to conceal these movements. Male deceivers are more overt in their reactions, while women remain more neutral in certain sense of deceptive behavior.

Cody, Michael J., (1983, September). Communication Monograph. Retrieved from EBSCOHost,


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