Studying Liars Part II

by Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia

In Part I, we examined how deceptive subjects often reveal their deceit in several ways, verbally: No Response/Non-Responsive, Lack of Denial, Repeating the Question and Delayed Response. These next two verbal indicators of deception, are a little more complex and bear more explanation.

Overly Specific/Overly Vague
If we were to ask you what you did last night after dinner, chances are your response would be fairly bulletized: I ate dinner, watched T.V., responded to a few emails, and went to bed. Notice that I didn't voluntarily expound in great detail on any of these topics by saying, "I ate a frozen dinner of Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green peas. It wasn't very good though as I didn't heat it up enough. They used to make those things better than they do nowadays. After that, I watched Everybody Loves Raymond. It was the one about..." This subject has thought about his alibi in great detail and wants to get it out. Also, providing more information than the question called for allows the guilty subject to talk at length about what he wants to talk about, thereby avoiding the real subject. The overly vague subject does just the opposite-he can't remember anything about anything.

Protest Statements
Protest statements are statements the subject makes to convince you of his innocence rather than to provide you with meaningful, relevant, and pertinent information about the crime. For example, you ask the rape suspect if he had forced sexual intercourse with the victim and he responds saying, "Look man, I'm married. I've got kids. I've got too much to lose to do something like that." The deceptive subject would rather tell you what a great human being he is than answer your pointed question directly. In addition, this subject is also giving you great insight into what his barriers to confessing are likely to be: what his wife and children will think if he admits guilt.

Some additional protest statements you might hear are as follows:

• I'm a devout _______ (insert any religious affiliation here)
• I'm happily married
• I love kids-I would never do anything to hurt a child
• I'm an upstanding member of my community-I'm a member of (insert any charitable or reputable organization here)
• You can't take money from that place-it's locked up like Fort Knox
• No one molested that kid-she's a pathological liar you know

Next time, in Part III, we'll examine some of the more typical non-verbal indicators of deception.