To Spot a Liar, Look for These 6 Clues

New computer software far outperforms humans
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2015 7:23 AM CST
To Spot a Liar, Look for These 6 Clues
Graffiti is painted on a fence around the construction site of the new HQ of the European Central Bank. The graffiti was created by German street artist Case, who painted 16 Pinocchios.   (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Poker players have been saying, and even living and dying by it, for years: Everyone has a tell. Whether we're lying or telling the truth, most of us reveal ourselves through the tiniest physical and verbal clues, and new lie-detecting software developed at the University of Michigan analyzes these words and gestures to determine with 75% accuracy whether someone is lying—which may not sound stellar but is far more accurate than humans' ability to determine this, which stands at just over 50%. "People are poor lie detectors," says study lead Rada Mihalcea. "There are clues that humans give naturally when they are being deceptive, but we're not paying close enough attention to pick them up. We're not counting how many times a person says 'I' or looks up. We're focusing on a higher level of communication."

A key part of the research, she tells the Michigan Daily, is that the team looked at video footage from courtrooms and the Innocence Project, as opposed to footage generated in labs, so that people were in real-life situations where there might be strong-enough motives to lie. "We wanted real data when people are truly lying," Mihalcea says, and the 75% success rate was determined by comparing the software's conclusion to trial outcomes. The six strongest tells? Bustle sums them up: gesturing with both hands; strong eye contact; head nodding; scowling; filler words; and third-person pronouns when referring to oneself. Of course, Quartz points out that we can't know with certainty whether a courtroom verdict was correct, or whether all the "liars" were truly lying. (You're most likely to lie during this time of day.)

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