I REFER to the article, Friendly Persuasion (StarTwo, April 29) and the opinion of Dr Coral Dando of Lancaster University’s Department of Psychology. When asked if body language plays a role in determining if a person is lying, Dando said no. Even though British officers are taught a lot about body language, she said there is no such thing as a dead giveaway.
Her reply that body language does not play a role in determining if a person is lying and that there is no dead giveaway reveals that she does not know the subject of body language intimately.
Almost 3,000 years ago when a difficult problem of parental identity was presented to King Solomon, it was the inward emotions (body language) of the real mother who stopped the cutting of her baby into two – a dead giveaway – that made King Solomon’s judicial decision go down in history.
In his book, People Watching, Dr Desmond Morris says this about lying: “Even in the most self-aware faces, tiny micro-expressions leak the truth. These micro-expressions are caused by the face’s all-too-rapid efficiency in registering inner feelings. When a mood-change seeks expression, it can expect to be registered by the alteration in the set of facial muscles in much less than a second. The counter-message from the brain tells the face to “shut up”, which often fails to catch up with the primary mood-change message.
“The result is that a facial expression begins and then, a split second later, is cancelled by the counter-message. What happens on the face during the split-second delay is a tiny, fleeting hint of an expression. It is suppressed so quickly that most people never see it, but if watched for carefully during lying sessions, it can be detected and is then one of the best (dead giveaways) of deception clues.”
However, for the untrained observer, after special training, using slow-motion films, one can spot them in normal-speed films of interviews. So to a trained expert, even the face cannot lie. Therefore there are dead giveaways in body language that help in making a decision when no other evidence is available, and help narrow down the number of suspects in a persuasive interrogation.
Thus body language plays a very important role in determining when a person is lying and there are dead giveaways that can reveal to investigators a lie. For that reason, one should practise a holistic approach or the whole person concept in investigations.
Jackson Yogarajah Strategic Excellence Training Kuala Lumpur