Getting the Most Mileage from Your Mental Fuel

Years ago, I heard the metaphor, mental fuel, used to refer to attention. I found it appropriate because like gas tanks, our cognitive thought processes hold a limited amount of fuel, and we can determine how quickly we use the fuel, depending on our driving habits. Research has proven that

  • we can determine which mental tasks receive the most fuel (attention)
  • rehearsed or learned tasks will require less fuel resources (attention).

Research has not confirmed, although highly speculative, multiple tasks can be performed in parallel versus flipping back-and-forth between tasks, and some tasks require a consistent amount of attention, regardless of the situation or other tasks involved (Willingham, 2007).

What about driving and talking? The question remains does our attention flip flop, yet go unnoticed, especially with experienced drivers? Probably so, since the experienced driver may not be giving 100% of their attention to either task. Don’t forget, memory also plays a part. We have practiced certain scripts to the point they no longer present much cognitive load (mental strain).

Research in the mid-1990’s demonstrated that auditory and visual tasks were interlinked and that one could not be compromised without affecting the other. Nevertheless, it was found that two auditory tasks caused more interference than an auditory and visual task. Perhaps, this helps explain why we can drive down a familiar road and chat with a friend, but incessantly get frustrated when talking on the phone, while someone is asking questions in our other ear! Remember, differences attract, and likenesses repel, or at least for attention mileage.

~ Dr. Michelle Doscher

For more information on cognitive processes, check out Daniel Willingham, along with Willingham, D. B. (2001). Cognition: The thinking animal. New York: Prentice Hall. 2nd edition (2004). 3rd edition (2007).

Transparency, Good or Bad?

Human behavior is unique, so generalizing veracity cues is erroneous, if knowing the difference between truth and fiction is important. Think of a few instances when you would want to know the truth. Job interview? First date? Reading of a will? You get the idea…

foxnews.com

Unlike jellyfish, humans do not clone themselves, but our words can sting. What we say and do are unique. Our verbal and nonverbal communication skills cannot be duplicated. Humans are one-of-a-kind communicators. We also like short-cuts. Not only were our brains created to process and store large amounts of information but also to retrieve information about the past, present, and future! Yes, the future. Speculation is the result of gathering past information to predict a future situation.

I say this jokingly, but I think my brain is constantly saying “Keep it simple, stupid.” (K.I.S.S.) I will admit, there have been days when brain overload seemed imminent. Cognitive load (brain stress) occurs, because of mental conflict, a mass input of information, or new and different surroundings, to name a few. As I mentioned before, our brain likes to take short-cuts, and our brain also likes to avoid cognitive load. The result is sometimes deceptive or incomplete answers. For example, what is the best way to avoid conflict? Answer: Don’t mention details that would initiate or result in conflict. This is also known as omission. What if you need to be convincing to save face or prevent someone’s feelings from getting hurt? Answer: Fabricate a convincing scenario based on the truth, or simply embellish the truth a bit.

Although I am not encouraging deceptive practices, white lies do sometimes serve a purpose. But what if knowing the TRUTH is paramount? Then do not seek to identify universal lie detection cues. Although many people exhibit similar behavioral traits, these cues do not always represent the same trait in each person. For more information on indirect methods to quantitative deception detection, visit https://MindSleuth.us Transparency may disclose information that should be kept secret, or disclose valuable information for the greater good. Either way, a noninvasive indirect method now exists allowing a glimpse into the mind’s cognitive processing.

Stay true to yourself!

~Dr. Doscher

Call for Research Participants

How well do you mask lies?

Single or multiple submissions welcome. Make it a contest! Get your office involved. Assign yourself a 5-digit code to be placed on your writing sample. No identifying information please.

 

Instructions: Please write 4 paragraphs per the below instructions. You may print or write cursive on lined or unlined paper, and it does not matter if you write with a pen or pencil. Scan or photograph your completed statements and email or text them (with your 5-digit code) to: Michelle@MindSleuth.us or (800) 910-0270s.  Results with 5-digit codes will be published on Facebook and in the Spring issue of eliteinvestigativejournal.com

PARAGRAPH #1– Copy the following paragraph.
I was asked to write an article about bitcoins. The editor will contact me with needed edits prior to publishing my article. The compensation will be in virtual dollars.
PARAGRAPH #2
In 3 or more sentences, state your sex, age, your favorite pastime, and why you enjoy this pastime.
PARAGRAPH #3
In 3 or more sentences, write about your dream vacation, as if you just returned from a week of rest and relaxation. Be creative! But, remember, you must have never experienced this vacation.
PARAGRAPH #4
In 3 or more sentences, write about an incident which never occurred.

Thank you for your participation!

Dr. Michelle Doscher

May I Have Your Attention Please

Cognitive interviews are often preferred because of the explicit information attained. An interviewer will typically focus on temporal and spatial questions to elicit this information. So, once your interviewee’s descriptive verbiage begins, how do you know if you are receiving completely accurate information?
Ramp up the cognitive load and the verbal and nonverbal deceptive cues will emerge! Whoa, not so fast. What if your interviewee is completely comfortable telling tall tales? Requesting temporal and spatial details may not trigger extra cognitive load. They may rely on

established schema or rehearsed scenarios to dilute the effects of extra mental strain.
However, splitting their attention may do the trick. Diverge from maintaining eye contact and flip flop around with questions that do not seem to follow a normal sequence. This split-attention effect will make relying on schema more difficult and “new” scenarios will need to be created, for those interviewees with deceptive tendencies. In turn, cognitive load will be induced and deceptive cues will emerge.
What about interviewees telling the truth? This technique will also induce mental strain, but most truth tellers usually respond to cognitive load with less descriptive and shorter answers. If they receive positive feedback from the interviewer, the cognitive load will also be lessened. Unlike the deceptive interviewee, the truthful interviewee is not pressured to monitor feedback, verbiage, and possible deceptive cues.

Memories of the Future

Coined by David Ingvar, memories of the future, refers to our intentions.   As proactive beings, we make plans and follow them to guide our behavior.  While gathering snippets of our past experiences, we try to anticipate outcomes of possible future actions.  Therefore, we depend on these schemas to direct our actions, resulting in desired behavioral outcomes that do not imitate past experiences or present realities.

The general consensus has been that deceptive behavior is more cognitively demanding than truthful behavior.  However, more recent research is pointing to truthful intent as more cognitively demanding than false intent.  How so? You may ask.  Conceptualizing truthful intent requires not only planning for the future but also recalling memories of past actions and their corresponding behaviors and reactions.  Then, our proactive selves digest this information and anticipate possible future actions with desired behavioral outcomes. Whew! Talk about cognitive load!

The prefrontal cortex, which means “at the front of the cortex”, is our corporate executive of the brain.  Its tasks include, but not be limited to, executive control, conflict monitoring, emotion, and working memory.   Hmm…so, maybe the cognitive load approach to interviewing is not the golden ticket, if determining veracity of intent is the interviewer’s objective.

If the above assumptions are correct, a truthful interviewee could exhibit more deceptive behavioral cues, such as pauses or exaggerated details, than a deceptive interviewee.  This might occur as a result of the multi-layer cognitive processing when creating truthful ‘memories of the future’.  Remember, false statements, especially fabricated statements, may contain some truthful content; however, the deceptive person’s goal is not to unintentionally reference past actions, which could associate them to a particular phenomenon in question.  To prevent this from occurring, deceptive persons typically shy away from referencing memories and their associated behavioral responses,  when creating false statements of intent.