Brock research strives to help law enforcement better detect deception

Michael Logue wants to know if you’re telling the truth.Logue recently graduated with his PhD in psychology from Brock University after pursuing his degree while also working as an officer with the Hamilton Police Service.His PhD thesis included completing three studies to help determine if it’s possible to use verbal cues, rather than body language, to detect deception during a police interview.Logue said despite media portrayals showing significantly better results, “studies show that police officers, judges, psychologists and parole officers have a 54 to 57 per cent accuracy level in correctly determining if someone is telling the truth or lying,” Logue explains.He believes this is due in part to a reliance on ‘reading’ non-verbal cues, or body language, during interviews. His studies have focused instead on verbal indications of deception, using the theory of reality monitoring.“The idea is that when you experience an event, you experience it in context with sights, sounds, timing, spatial arrangements and your own ideas about what is happening,” says Logue. “People who are lying tend not to add these contextual cues. They tend to focus on the facts and on getting their story straight.”Existing research shows that using reality monitoring criteria to assess verbal cues could improve accuracy in detecting deception to between 64 and 71 per cent.But looking to improve that accuracy even more, Logue wondered if changing the focus of interviews from extracting confessions to gathering information would allow more time for contextual details to emerge when the truth was being told, or to fail to emerge when a fabrication was being passed off as the truth.“I believe that people who are telling the truth throughout an interview should offer even more information by the end of it, whereas a liar’s story will not increase in details and inconsistencies should emerge.”In his first study, using student participants in a controlled experiment, Logue was able to obtain an accuracy rate of 86.6 per cent in detecting deception. The second study resulted in 92.5 per cent accuracy.In the third study, Logue tried to determine if the personality traits of interviewees, such as psychopathy and dominance, might be linked to an increased ability to deceive the interviewers in his study. However, he found no evidence that such traits could help subjects beat the system.His supervisor, Angela Book, is an expert in psychopathy and said Logue’s research “points us in the right direction in terms of what strategies can be used to detect deception, even in people who may be more adept at deceiving others.“If these findings are replicated in real-world interrogations, his work will have a large impact both theoretically and practically,” says Book, the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.Logue wants to help law enforcement officials be as efficient and effective as possible.“I want to develop a method of detecting deception that will be easy to use for officers of all experience levels.”The police won’t be the only people to benefit from their improved ability to detect lies.“Accurate lie detection is important in cases of guilty parties who are successful liars, but also for those individuals who may be determined to be deceptive by current methods, but who are actually telling the truth,” Logue says. read more