Deception in Nonverbal Communication by: Devon Conley

Deception by Devon Conley

            While reading this article I found out that polygraphs are a good form in telling when a person is lying or not. Only professional liars can go around a polygraph and that is very rare. It states that when someone is taking a polygraph and the test claims that they are lying, the person usually is anxious. Polygraphs are only intended for official use. It is not something that can be used on a daily basis. For example, a wife could not use it to find out if her husband or children had been lying to her about their whereabouts. As the article goes on, it then starts to question whether an untrained observer can catch someone lying. Then, they later studied whether or not they can trick the polygraph by using role-play. They learned that the person was trying to pretend to lie and it did not work in this study. This article is mainly about research on deception and how different studies can test it.

            Another study that was done was they told students to cheat on a test and then be questioned on why they did so well on it. Because the stakes were high in getting expelled from school for cheating on a test this motivated them to lie and convince their teacher that they studied for this test. This is an example of how people with high stakes to lose can lie very well under any circumstance. It is stated in this article that people who are untrained observers for liars can rarely spot a deceitful person. This goes a long with the YouTube video in module 5. This video showed the different give away tactics that people tend to use when they lie. Some examples of someone lying is that their tone becomes more nervous and they tend to shrug a lot. When people lie they tend to throw in mixed emotions to throw you off. Even the best research in the field can make a wrong observation about deception. Because research is not done on a hundred percent of the population, the information is not always correct. To determine if someone is lying is a difficult thing to do, however, there are some cues to let you know.

            As for lying, we now know that it is difficult to detect a liar. However, it is not proven that all liars tend to use excessive body movements. Liars tend to become more nervous and tend to start messing with their hands and become anxious. A study in this article showed some of the percentages that liars tend to do. Around fifty-six percent of people tend to fidget and around seventy-two percent of people use defensive gestures. Ekman and Friesen theorized that liars have more control over their face rather than their other body parts. The later part of this article focuses more on the liar’s gestures. It states that certain liars will become more nervous and anxious when being deceitful. However, even though we know of these little cues to detect a liar it is still hard to notice one. Nonverbal communication goes a long way in this article because it is the smallest body movements that can catch someone in a lie. One just has to be aware of the gestures to catch the liar in the act. 


Hocking, J. E., & Leathers, D. G. (1980). NONVERBAL INDICATORS OF DECEPTION: A NEW THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE. Communication Monographs47(2), 119.


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