Deception by Andrea Lemen

self_deception_lumenI chose to take a clip from a recent movie called Pelham 1-2-3 starring John Travolta and Denzel Washington.  The clip that I am referencing starts at the thirty six minute marker and last just a few moments.  In this clip, John’s character, who has just assumed illegal possession of a train and is demanding money, discovers an unsavory piece of information about the train dispatcher he’s been conversing with the last hour, namely Denzel’s character.  At this point, John starts by asking Denzel his first name, mainly because he has been referring to Denzel’s character as Garber-his last name.  Out of surprise and reluctance Denzel confirms his first name.  John then asks about his current position and wonders how a big wig ends up working his current position as a low level dispatcher.  Denzel stutters a bit, then replies by saying,” I work for MTA, (pauses and looks disheveled) uh, today they put me at dispatcher, (elongated nervous pause) my bad luck.” All the while John knows the truth about his demotion which is a result of a bribery allegation.

This brief exchange is a good example of deception on the part of Denzel.  In the text, it states that deception can be detected through non-verbal cues (p.405).  As we’ve already learned, tone and non-verbal behavior, are two of the three components needed to create the message being sent to the receiver.  Although John knows the truth, Denzel sounded less convincing through the intercom system by the uneasiness and quiver in his tone.  In short, the reason for the failure of his message was a result of his non-verbal cues not matching his verbal communication thus creating a lack of believability and fostering an act of deception.  This example coincides with the text in terms of how we perceive the validity of a message and the nature of non-verbal deception.



Burgoon, J., Guerrero, L., & Floyd, K. (2010). Nonverbal communication. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.. 404-407.

Black T., Scott T., Blumenthal J., Tisch S. (Producers). (2009). The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 [36:45 – 37:41]. 

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