5 Common Cues to Deceptive Nonverbal Behavior

  1. Facial expressions
  2. Body language
  3. Psycho-physiological responses
  4. Thought processes
  5. Written communication

Darting eyes, crossed arms, and flushed necks are all signs of deception, right?  That is absolutely, positively not always the case.  Mounds of research pinpoint specific cues to deception, yet most researchers agree multiple cues compared to baseline behaviors are needed to suggest acts of deception.  Behavior is unique to individuals.  Similarities exist, but unique identifiers, combined with content and contextual associations, are key.

Deception detectors often focus on cues for deception, while ignoring the truth bias approach.  Assume everyone is telling the truth unless convinced otherwise.  Know your subject’s truthful nonverbal expressions.  Open-ended conversation with verifiable questions interspersed is a helpful exercise.

Truth-tellers sometimes exhibit deceptive cues in their attempt to convince others of their veracity.  The lack of continuity, when recalling incidents, can be perceived as deceptive when in fact it is often quite the opposite.  Non-spontaneous deceptive behavior is a rehearsal of determined incidents including temporal (time) details. Whereas, truthful comments can be sprinkled with spatial and temporal details, not always mentioned in the correct order.  In other words, backtracking is common in truthful statements, where anxiety and cognitive load are factors.

Lastly, in a world of touch screens and laptops, handwritten communications are sparse.  Recent research points to benefits of tell-all written statements and structured cognitive-behavioral interviews.  Handwriting is brainwriting.  Cognitive dissonance is not just for verbal communication anymore!  Verbal pauses and various types of deception are not only visible but measurable in handwriting.