Episode 141: Psychology Gets Smart: A New Kind of Lie Detector?

MichaelBiopsychology, Cognition, Intelligence and Language, Critical Thinking, Research and Stats3 Comments

You’ve probably heard that the so called “Lie Detector” test (the polygraph) doesn’t actually detect when you’ve lied, but rather just takes some physiological measures from your body and these have to be interpreted by experts. Sometimes those experts make mistakes. Join me as I describe a psychological study that tested a new kind of “Lie Detector” – drawings. This study involved Agents, Missions, an Interception, and a mysterious “package”. This is psychology? You better believe it. It’s a subfield of psychology called “forensic psychology“.


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3 Comments on “Episode 141: Psychology Gets Smart: A New Kind of Lie Detector?”

  1. Hi Michael,

    I really enjoyed this episode too. You’re on a roll! 🙂
    BTW, I thought I’d mention that I’m a real Lie To Me fan (Tim Roth is one of my favourite actors) and I’ve heard a few interviews with the scientist that the show is based on (Dr Paul Ekman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Ekman) and it seems quite real – not quackery. I agree that he can’t tell if someone is lying, as you claimed, but he (and the character and his team) are able to spot ‘micro-expressions’, small unconscious expressions that reveal a person’s actual current disposition. You can’t tell what someone is actually thinking or what the truth is, but you can get a clear idea if what they’re saying is at odds with the truth. Coupled with good personal skills the character can guess (educatedly) his way through mysteries.

    My point is that I think it’s genuine science, but of course isn’t a silver bullet for lie detectors. 🙂

    I’d love to know what you think of Ekman’s work if you happen across it.

  2. I wonder also if in forensic investigations, drawing can help identifying less digested visual experience from unconscious filling the gaps to built a reasonable story.

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