Total Pageviews

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Lying eyes

Last Thursday I was visiting the supermarket for groceries. While I was leaving, a supermarket employee went to one of the cash registers and asked a boy standing in the queue whether he perhaps had forgotten to pay for something. The boy acknowledged this. I was curious and took a look at the boy and noticed some clear body language: a head like a tomato.

Nearly anybody would be able to translate this type of body language into the corresponding emotions: guilt, humiliation and shame. Personally I prefer a close look at someone's eyes to distinguish good from bad. Only 2 persons come to my mind of whom I am still not sure about as my emotion, ratio and subconscious are not in sync. For me most people tend to be in accordance with their eyes, body language and facial expressions.

One of my all time favourite TV series (Lie To Me, 2009-2011, rated 8.0 in IMDB) dealt with this topic: using facial expressions and body language for detecting lies. In essence our face is like an open book for those who are expert in this field. The show is inspired by the work of Paul Ekman, the world's foremost expert on facial expressions.

Paul Ekman (b. 1934) is an American psychologist who is a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions, and who has created an 'atlas of emotions' with more than ten thousand facial expressions, and has gained a reputation as "the best human lie detector in the world". Dr. Ekman has served as an advisor to police departments and anti-terrorism groups and acted as a scientific consultant in the production of the TV series. He is also the author of 15 books, including "Telling Lies" and "Emotions Revealed". Sources:,

Aristotle was the first person to extensively study and record his findings, then the practice became tied to astrology in the medieval era. In the 18th and 19th centuries, face reading techniques (a.k.a. physiognomy) was used to detect certain criminal tendencies, and most recently, it’s been used to interpret mental faculties and character traits. Source:

Remarkably, the USA is also well-known for inventing (1921) an instrument for lie detection, being the polygraph. A polygraph (popularly referred to as a lie detector test) measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. The belief underpinning the use of the polygraph is that deceptive answers will produce physiological responses that can be differentiated from those associated with non-deceptive answers. Source:

The accuracy of Dr. Ekman's method versus the polygraph is rather complicated. Dr. Ekman claims his method has an accuracy of some 80% while the polygraph claims a 90% validity. There is one big difference though. The polygraph validity claims are severely debated and even called pseudoscience while Dr. Ekman clearly does not cause the same degree of debate. The admission of polygraph results in court is limited to the USA. Most other countries view it as unreliable and inconclusive.

Reading people fascinates me. Lie to me. Please.......

Lyin' Eyes - Eagles -