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  #1  
  10-07-2011, 12:34 PM
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One of the most interesting things I've seen on television to date is Lie To Me, the now-cancelled Fox series that shows a little-known science of reading people's facial expressions. It's based on the real-life work of Dr. Paul Ekman, who has released books on the subject for a few decades now. This is something that's taught to law enforcement officers, and similar books have been written by current and former FBI agents.

And it's not simply the show that I found intriguing, but rather the full treatment it was given by Fox. No, not that it was bounced around timeslots and ultimately cancelled -- that part sucked. I refer to the blog Fox set up, which was guest-written by Dr. Ekman. He would discuss each episode, often pointing out scenes or dialogue that either agreed with or conflicted with the science as he would teach it!

It was like having a post-game report for a TV show!

With the show now gone, the blog at the Fox site is corrupted, and I would imagine it will be axed any day now. Because I don't want to lose those blogs, I'm copying them here, so that I can refer to them later, as I read Ekman's books. The show gives us more facial images to examine, beyond what's found in his books, or the books of others.

____________

These are in reverse order, with the final episodes appearing first:

Quote:
"Killer App" - Contempt
Lightman identifies an excellent example of the expression of contempt. This is the emotion in which the person showing the expression feels morally superior to the target of the expression.
Quote:
"Killer App" - Voice Inflection
When Gillian tells Zach that his voice inflection indicates something about control, Zach rightfully dismisses this claim, comparing it to reading palms. While the voice does signal information about emotions, this example of what is called Voice Stress Analysis is not supported by research.
Quote:
"Gone" - Rehearsing
The mother’s rehearsed statement should raise question about whether she is being truthful; however, sometimes people under suspicion who are innocent but worried about being disbelieved, will, if they have the time, prepare and rehearse what they are going to say.
Quote:
"Gone" - Look Away
Loker correctly notes the husband is not looking at his wife doing the news conference, but the angling away could be a sign of anger for her negligence not a sign of lying in and of itself.
Quote:
"Gone" - Clenched Jaw
Jaw clenching is a sign of attempting to control one’s emotions, or it can also be a sign of oncoming anger, but it is not a sign of lying.
Quote:
"Gone" - Shaken and Stirred Up
Lightman explains the tactic he has developed over the shows in the last season, which is to shake people up so they will forget to hide their emotions. The problem is that the emotions are probably a reaction to being shaken up not necessarily about whether or not they are lying. I take a completely different tack: establishing a confidential and accepting atmosphere with questions that invite people to tell their story. Once you get people talking they often say more than they intended to say. Our research found that the more words spoken the easier it was to detect lies.
Quote:
"Saved"
Many times in the first twenty minutes Torres says she spotted guilt or shame in the facial expressions of various people. I have explained more than once in earlier commentaries that there is not a unique expression for either of those emotions, so I won’t repeat myself here.

The program did get it right about the meaning of shoulder shrugs. About half way through Lightman says that the shoulder shrugs shown by Kent, Eileen’s brother, reveal he doesn’t really think Eileen is a hero. Lightman does some big shrugs at that point, but our research has found it is only a fragment of the shrug – the slight lifting of one shoulder, or the slight rotation of one hand – which betrays a lie. When it occurs as just a fragment of the full gesture we call it an emblematic slip. Emblem is a term we use to refer to symbolic gestures such as the shrug, or A-OK movement where there is a precise meaning known by all members of the culture. It is a slip when the person doesn’t realize the emblem fragment is revealing the truth.

When the emblematic slip directly contradicts what the person is saying, for example a slight head shake ‘no’ when verbally saying ‘yes’ it is most clear cut, and so far we have never been wrong in saying the person is lying when that happens. Even when it does not directly contradict what is being said, shrug emblematic slips that are shown only when a person is talking about a particular topic and not at other times, have been a reliable sign of lying.

One caveat about emblems: they are a culture-specific body language. You won’t recognize emblems from another culture. Even worse, sometimes the same movement has a radically different meaning in two cultures. The finger to thumb emblem which Americans know to be ‘A-OK’ in Sicily is an insulting reference to another person’s sexual practices.

There are a couple of instances in the first half of the program where one or another of the actors refers to a fear expression, and indeed fear does have a unique facial expression, but it is not what is displayed in the show.
Quote:
"Funhouse"
"Funhouse" raises some interesting questions about whether mental illness is inherited and how a son or daughter might cope with the fear they have inherited the known mental illness of one of their parents. This is outside my area of expertise, but there is information about it on the NIH.Gov website. What is my area of expertise – the scientific study of how demeanor reveals the differences between lying and truthfulness – was not present in this show. Hence, I have no comments on "Funhouse."
Quote:
"Rebound" - Sociopaths
There was a lot of science in "Rebound," but regrettably most of it was wrong!

One important matter the show got right is how some people make no mistakes when they lie. This is true of some but not all sociopaths. Their lack of guilt may contribute to their success in conning others. But I think it is more due to their charm – I know I am dealing with a sociopath when I have the impulse to invite them home for dinner on first meeting. Also good liars have an unerring sense of what their victim needs, what the victim wants to believe. Again not all sociopaths are such good judges of other people. And, many people who have this skill, who can take the viewpoint of the other person and understand what that person needs and believes, are not sociopaths.

Apart from the depiction of George the sociopath, most of what was said about nonverbal behavior has no scientific basis. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily wrong in every given instance. Just that scientific study of lying by me and colleagues has not found evidence to support the claims made in the program that:

- The sons angling away from his mother shows distrust.
- When Lily is told her face shows anger, it doesn’t.
- Lily’s forward lean signals intent to act on her anger
- There is a sign of guilt in the face different from the sadness family of emotions.
- The mouth can signal regret.

But these interpretations do move the story forward.
Quote:
"Smoked" - Types of Murder
When Foster says “so this wasn’t a robbery, this was a premeditated murder,” Lightman replies “an execution.” There are important distinctions among murders that focus on the motivation of the killer. Was it an instrumental murder, performed because it became necessary to obtain a goal, or was the goal to eliminate someone, as in an execution or assassination? In the instrumental killing the murderer is prepared, armed, but it was not the goal, killing occurs only if necessary to achieve the goal – getting the money in a robbery, for example. This is not the case with premeditated murders; the only goal is to take a life. Another type of unplanned murder occurs when in the midst of an argument, fury is unleashed and the murder is the result of a loss of impulse control. The legal system takes account of the motives of the killer, meting out the most severe punishment for premeditated murders.
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Last edited by kpmedia; 10-07-2011 at 08:35 PM.
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  10-07-2011, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
"Smoked" - Baseline
In just a moment’s comment Loker tells the viewers that Lightman got a baseline – Rudy was telling the truth when he says it was bourbon. The concept of a baseline is one which I have emphasized if the lie-catcher is to avoid misinterpreting idiosyncratic behavior. For example, some people always talk slowly, hesitantly; that is their baseline. If you don’t know the person’s baseline you could misinterpret hesitant speech as a sign of lying. If you know the baseline is slow speech, then speaking quickly might be a clue that what is being said was rehearsed ahead of time. It is always a change from baseline that is relevant. Interpreting behavior without knowing what is that person’s baseline is hazardous.
Quote:
"Veronica" - Shame vs. Guilt
Lightman tells Gus Sloan "you look sad, and what I really mean is ashamed.” Sadness, shame and guilt are often confused – because they share the same facial expression – but they are very different emotions. In shame and guilt there may be more looking away or covering of part of the face, than would occur with straight sadness, but the basic facial expression is the same – inner corners of the eyebrows are raised so that the eyebrows slant downwards from the center of the forehead, cheeks are slightly raised, lip corners are slightly pulled down, and sometimes the lower lip is pushed up slightly.

Sadness (the name of a family of emotions that includes disappointment, discouragement, and hopelessness) is felt when there is an important loss. Typically it is the loss of someone to whom we are very attached; when the loss is due to death we call it grief. Guilt is felt about an action that we know was wrong. Shame is felt not about an action but about who and what we are; if anyone really knew who and what we are, they would be repulsed. Guilt motivates a confession of wrong doing, shame inhibits it.
Quote:
"Veronica" - Speech Emphasis Illustrator
Lightman tells Charlie that his expression reveals that he thinks Veronica killed Rose. That’s all it is – a speech emphasis illustrator – not proof of who killed someone.
Quote:
"Veronica" - Emphatic Denial
Foster tells the doctor that emphatic denial with stress on every word is a sign of "condescending deception”. She is right about the condescension, (although it can also be an old fashioned bit of rhetorical speech-making). But it is not a sign of deception.
Quote:
"Beyond Belief" - Dilated Pupils
Torres says to Dr. Sutherland that fear dilates the pupils, limiting his ability and reaction times. That is so not just for fear, but also for anger.
Quote:
"Beyond Belief" - Shame
This program deals with shame, as it is shown by Carol and later by Jane. The facial signal for shame looks no different from the expressions that occur with sadness, but in addition there are hand movements, which cover part of the face. Eyes are directed down in both shame and sadness. I view shame as a relative of sadness, but it is more than the disappointment and response to an important loss that occurs in sadness. In shame the person doesn’t want others to know how she or he is feeling, for if others knew what the person is ashamed of they would be disgusted.
Quote:
"Beyond Belief" - Facial Surgery
Torres discovers that Stafford has had facial surgery, which makes it difficult to read his facial expressions. It depends on how skillful the plastic surgeon was, how apparent it will be that ‘work’ was done.
Quote:
"The Canary's Song" - No Science
There was no science in this one at all to comment on.
Quote:
"Double Blind” – Fear
Lightman tells Naomi "I saw that look in your eyes, fear." Fear is registered in many parts of the face: the lips stretched horizontally, the eyebrows raised and pulled together, but the most obvious sign is the wide open eyes, very wide, upper lids pulled up and lower lids tensed. It is unmistakable, but it is the part of the fear expression that is most easily faked; it is not hard to do deliberately. The most reliable sign of fear, which no one I have tested has been able to make deliberately, is in the eyebrows – both raised and pulled together at the same instant.
Quote:
"Double Blind” – Not Always Right
Lightman tells Torres "everyone screws up now and then, love." This is a very important message. Detecting lies from demeanor does not always work; it is hard to judge some people, and sometimes, not often, but sometimes, the judgments are wrong. A liar may be believed or a truthful person disbelieved. Lie To Me can create the impression that it is easy to make judgments about truthfulness, but it isn’t and even naturals, or who we have called wizards, do make mistakes. When we train law enforcement officers or counter terror officers it takes about 30 hours. We emphasize the importance of not misjudging the nervous, but truthful suspect; that is the worse error.
Quote:
"Dirty Loyal” - Resignation
Torres says that pursed lips and puffed cheeks indicate resignation, but that is not accurate. This expression occurs when someone is thinking, resigned, relieved… it is ambiguous because it can occur for many reasons. Her next remark that "widened eyes show fear” is correct, if they are very wide open, of they are only moderately widened then it is more likely part of a surprise not a fear expression.
Quote:
"Dirty Loyal” – Distancing Language
The internal affairs detective says "when you find dirt on that woman, Wallowski, which I know there is,” Lightman repeats "that woman,” but doesn’t explain why he is repeating those words. In an earlier program he did, but for those readers who didn’t see that show let me explain: it is an instance of distancing language, When former President Bill Clinton said "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky,” his use of distancing language suggested he was not being truthful. The ‘that woman’ phrase is not necessary, the speaker knows the person’s name, and says it but only after putting a little linguistic distance between the speaker and the person the speaker is naming.
Quote:
"Dirty Loyal” – Details, Details
Loker could be right. The details could be unnecessary, but sometimes such details are a sign the person is being truthful not lying. Foster also points out it may be a sign of her old age, and the throat clearing is due to her smoking, not a sign of lying. Vocal clues are important but the ones mentioned here are ambiguous not definitive. Alternative explanations always should be ruled out before jumping to the conclusion as Loker did, that it is evidence of deceit.
Quote:
"Dirty Loyal” – Coaching
Lightman coaches Wallowski in how to lie. Nationally known high-ranking politicians have asked me to help them appear more "credible”, but I have never taken such requests. I run a school for lie catchers, I have explained, not a school for liars. Unless you have natural ability coaching won’t help anyhow; Wallowski may have such natural ability. Lightman says he thinks she is what I call a natural performer.
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  10-07-2011, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
"Dirty Loyal" – Measuring Vitals
Wallowski’s blood pressure, sweating, heart rate and respiration are measured during the interrogation. It looks good, it is ‘science-y’ but it won’t be of much help in determining whether she is lying. These measures only show whether she is emotionally aroused, not which emotion is aroused, let alone what triggered the emotion.
Quote:
"Dirty Loyal" – Loyalty
The last five minutes of the show are about loyalty; loyalty to your partner, loyalty to your son. Do you lie to be loyal? Is that justifiable? Does it depend on what the lie is about, what is being covered up? I will discuss this in a newsletter.
Quote:
"The Royal We" - Anger + Fear
Megan’s mother says she is very angry, to which Lightman says "and scared - don’t forget that part." Megan replies to Lightman: "You just attacked my mother; how is she supposed to feel?" They both are right; anger and fear often go together. Emotions rarely occur in isolation. Instead one emotion precedes or provokes another emotion.

We are afraid of harm; we often get angry to defend against the threat of harm. Some threats of harm don’t also mobilize anger, just fear; for example, waiting to hear the results of a biopsy is typically saturated with the fear that it may reveal a malignancy, but usually there is no anger felt during that fear experience.

Fear often precedes anger; sometimes by only a fraction of a second, sometimes the fear may last much longer before anger is mobilized. When the fear is very brief, it may not be registered in awareness. Like Megan’s mother, the person then is only aware of feeling angry, not the momentary fear that preceded it that Lightman spotted in a micro facial expression.
Quote:
"The Royal We" - False Allegations
This program centers on false allegations of abuse by teenage girls. Unlike the real world, the man falsely accused is quickly vindicated, he doesn’t go to jail, and his life is not destroyed. There was a rash of such false allegations of abuse a decade or two ago. I was involved in defending the accused in one or two cases. The allegations are more likely to be false when it is a group of accusers not a single person, and when they are pre-adolescent or adolescents. But not always; sometimes it is true. Not nearly as often as it was once thought, but sometimes. Each case has to be evaluated in its own terms, and when there is no physical evidence, as is often the case, and it is a question of who to believe the accuser or the accused, evaluations of demeanor as Lightman and Foster did in this show can be very helpful.
Quote:
"In the Red" - After Death Expressions
Dr. Lightman comments that the facial expression of a dead woman shows fear. Checking with an undertaker and also looking at the relevant scientific literature suggests that facial expressions are not maintained after death. Perhaps there are circumstances in which that could happen, but it would be news.
Quote:
"In the Red" - What Expressions Don't Tell
Torres spots the woman’s angry facial expression, and raises the question about who is the target of the anger – the bank or her ex. Loker chimes in that it could be both. In just a few seconds Lie to Me illustrates a point I have repeatedly emphasized in my books: emotions don’t tell us what triggered them, and emotions don’t tell us who is the target of the emotion. To put it in other words, facial expressions tell us what the emotion is but not what triggered it and not who it is directed at. The power of this program is that it can teach that lesson in just a few seconds. You learn without knowing you are being taught!
Quote:
"In the Red" - Note from Dr. Ekman
The beginning of the third season of Lie to Me is an appropriate time to remind readers of my commentaries about the difference between science and entertainment, and the difference between a documentary and a dramatic series. While discovery and proof can be exciting for those who devote their life to science, it typically is a slow process, with a lot of drudgery. It would not be at all entertaining if a television audience were to watch even fifteen minutes of the activities of most scientific endeavors. In my own research projects I usually spent two to eight years to reach what I considered publishable conclusions.

The documentaries that have been made about my work illustrated the conclusions, with only momentary attention to the process that led to those conclusions. Documentaries have to be entertaining as well as informative; dramatic series certainly have to be entertaining but there is no requirement that that they have to be informative. The information conveyed by a documentary should be correct; a dramatic series has no such requirement.

Most of the dramatic series that dealt with lies in the last television season, and there were many of them, presented a lot of misinformation. But they didn’t claim to be based on science and Lie to Me does. From the start it was conceived as an entertaining dramatic series based on science, much of it my own work and also the work of other scientists. That doesn’t mean Lie to Me doesn’t sometimes inadvertently get it wrong; when it does I point that out in these commentaries. And sometimes it is not inadvertent; it is poetic license. I try to mention that also.

The last time I computed how much of the information in a Lie To Me episode was accurate, it was about 85%. But remember Dr. Lightman solves problems more quickly than I ever have – he has only 45’. And he is more certain than I usually am about whether someone is lying or truthful. But it is entertaining and you will learn correct, scientifically based, information.
Quote:
"Black and White" - Fear to Surprise
Foster says that they can tell that Officer Farr is lying because his voice pitch rose from fear to surprise. Voice pitch does go up in fear, but I don’t know of research that shows it goes up even higher when fear switches to surprise. And even if that were so, it would not, for me, be sufficient to make the judgment of lying. People under suspicion who are truthful can be afraid of being disbelieved – it is not just the perpetrator who is afraid.

Usually the relationship between fear and surprise is reversed from what Foster claims here. The anthropologist Karl Heider when studying the language used for emotional experience among Indonesians proposed that there are waystation and endpoint emotions. Surprise is almost always a way station, changing quickly into some other endpoint emotion. Fear can also be a waystation leading to anger as the endpoint, or it may remain the endpoint.
Quote:
"Black and White" - Just a Feeling
Lightman tells FBI agent Reynolds his evaluation of Dillon was based on a feeling, not on science. When I have a strong feeling that someone is lying, and don’t know why I have that feeling, I regard it as an important data point, and if I have video I review it again and again. If I am doing the interview – and all to rarely do I get to ask the questions, instead having to put up with other people’s questioning – I will go back and question the interviewee repeatedly in different ways to try to find out what was the basis for my feeling. I would never submit a judgment that someone is lying based solely on a feeling, but then Dr. Lightman enjoys being cheeky, and I bet he is lying when he says that to get a reaction.
Quote:
"Darkness and Light" - Arm-folding
While Foster says Lacey’s arm-folding is a sign of defensiveness, and some clinicians do make this claim, I don’t know of reliable scientific evidence to support this interpretation. Maybe... maybe not.
Quote:
"Darkness and Light" - Justifiable Lie
Because of their fear that Molly is too fragile to know that her mother’s death was caused by the toys she left out on the staircase, the Lightman group decides it is justifiable to lie to her and tell her it was Amy who left the toys out. Amy agrees to the lie. Sometimes, I do believe, it is justifiable to lie, to save a life, to prevent terrible cruelty or psychological harm, as in this example. It is a dangerous move, because lying can become a habit. Or a lie may be told not to protect or help the victim of the liar, but to enable the liar to get away with something – for example the husband who believes his wife really doesn’t want to know about his affairs, wants him to lie to her about it. I wished there was a little more discussion about whether the lie was justifiable, but I am glad the issue was raised in this show.
Quote:
"Exposed" - Mistaken Expression
Foster shows Loker and Torres a photograph of Burns that Lightman had taken. Torres says its fear. We only see it briefly but for those in the TV audience who record the programs and might freeze frame the expression to check on Torres, I had better point out that Torres got it wrong. It is a minor matter, but in the past if I don’t point out a minor error in interpreting facial expressions or other behaviors, I am deluged with complaining emails.

Burns' facial expression is not fear but perplexity, concentration, or determination. The signal is the furrowing of his brows. Darwin called the muscle that generates this appearance the muscle of difficulty. It is activated whenever any difficulty is confronted, mental or physical. If you have to subtract 837 from 2941, even reading that mental arithmetic task is likely to activate this muscle. It also participates in combination with other muscles in the expressions of sadness, anger and fear; but in fear the brows would also be raised and the upper eyelid would be raised as well.
Quote:
"Exposed" - Yawns
Lightman says that Harris’ nervous yawn means he is hiding something. That could be so, but yawns occur for many reasons. One of those reasons is nervousness, which Lightman mentions, but nervousness itself has many different causes, only one of which is concern about something being hidden.
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  10-07-2011, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
"Dirty Loyal" – Measuring Vitals
Wallowski’s blood pressure, sweating, heart rate and respiration are measured during the interrogation. It looks good, it is ‘science-y’ but it won’t be of much help in determining whether she is lying. These measures only show whether she is emotionally aroused, not which emotion is aroused, let alone what triggered the emotion.
Quote:
"Dirty Loyal" – Loyalty
The last five minutes of the show are about loyalty; loyalty to your partner, loyalty to your son. Do you lie to be loyal? Is that justifiable? Does it depend on what the lie is about, what is being covered up? I will discuss this in a newsletter.
Quote:
"The Royal We" - Anger + Fear
Megan’s mother says she is very angry, to which Lightman says "and scared - don’t forget that part." Megan replies to Lightman: "You just attacked my mother; how is she supposed to feel?" They both are right; anger and fear often go together. Emotions rarely occur in isolation. Instead one emotion precedes or provokes another emotion.

We are afraid of harm; we often get angry to defend against the threat of harm. Some threats of harm don’t also mobilize anger, just fear; for example, waiting to hear the results of a biopsy is typically saturated with the fear that it may reveal a malignancy, but usually there is no anger felt during that fear experience.

Fear often precedes anger; sometimes by only a fraction of a second, sometimes the fear may last much longer before anger is mobilized. When the fear is very brief, it may not be registered in awareness. Like Megan’s mother, the person then is only aware of feeling angry, not the momentary fear that preceded it that Lightman spotted in a micro facial expression.
Quote:
"The Royal We" - False Allegations
This program centers on false allegations of abuse by teenage girls. Unlike the real world, the man falsely accused is quickly vindicated, he doesn’t go to jail, and his life is not destroyed. There was a rash of such false allegations of abuse a decade or two ago. I was involved in defending the accused in one or two cases. The allegations are more likely to be false when it is a group of accusers not a single person, and when they are pre-adolescent or adolescents. But not always; sometimes it is true. Not nearly as often as it was once thought, but sometimes. Each case has to be evaluated in its own terms, and when there is no physical evidence, as is often the case, and it is a question of who to believe the accuser or the accused, evaluations of demeanor as Lightman and Foster did in this show can be very helpful.
Quote:
"In the Red" - After Death Expressions
Dr. Lightman comments that the facial expression of a dead woman shows fear. Checking with an undertaker and also looking at the relevant scientific literature suggests that facial expressions are not maintained after death. Perhaps there are circumstances in which that could happen, but it would be news.
Quote:
"In the Red" - What Expressions Don't Tell
Torres spots the woman’s angry facial expression, and raises the question about who is the target of the anger – the bank or her ex. Loker chimes in that it could be both. In just a few seconds Lie to Me illustrates a point I have repeatedly emphasized in my books: emotions don’t tell us what triggered them, and emotions don’t tell us who is the target of the emotion. To put it in other words, facial expressions tell us what the emotion is but not what triggered it and not who it is directed at. The power of this program is that it can teach that lesson in just a few seconds. You learn without knowing you are being taught!
Quote:
"In the Red" - Note from Dr. Ekman
The beginning of the third season of Lie to Me is an appropriate time to remind readers of my commentaries about the difference between science and entertainment, and the difference between a documentary and a dramatic series. While discovery and proof can be exciting for those who devote their life to science, it typically is a slow process, with a lot of drudgery. It would not be at all entertaining if a television audience were to watch even fifteen minutes of the activities of most scientific endeavors. In my own research projects I usually spent two to eight years to reach what I considered publishable conclusions.

The documentaries that have been made about my work illustrated the conclusions, with only momentary attention to the process that led to those conclusions. Documentaries have to be entertaining as well as informative; dramatic series certainly have to be entertaining but there is no requirement that that they have to be informative. The information conveyed by a documentary should be correct; a dramatic series has no such requirement.

Most of the dramatic series that dealt with lies in the last television season, and there were many of them, presented a lot of misinformation. But they didn’t claim to be based on science and Lie to Me does. From the start it was conceived as an entertaining dramatic series based on science, much of it my own work and also the work of other scientists. That doesn’t mean Lie to Me doesn’t sometimes inadvertently get it wrong; when it does I point that out in these commentaries. And sometimes it is not inadvertent; it is poetic license. I try to mention that also.

The last time I computed how much of the information in a Lie To Me episode was accurate, it was about 85%. But remember Dr. Lightman solves problems more quickly than I ever have – he has only 45’. And he is more certain than I usually am about whether someone is lying or truthful. But it is entertaining and you will learn correct, scientifically based, information.
Quote:
"Black and White" - Fear to Surprise
Foster says that they can tell that Officer Farr is lying because his voice pitch rose from fear to surprise. Voice pitch does go up in fear, but I don’t know of research that shows it goes up even higher when fear switches to surprise. And even if that were so, it would not, for me, be sufficient to make the judgment of lying. People under suspicion who are truthful can be afraid of being disbelieved – it is not just the perpetrator who is afraid.

Usually the relationship between fear and surprise is reversed from what Foster claims here. The anthropologist Karl Heider when studying the language used for emotional experience among Indonesians proposed that there are waystation and endpoint emotions. Surprise is almost always a way station, changing quickly into some other endpoint emotion. Fear can also be a waystation leading to anger as the endpoint, or it may remain the endpoint.
Quote:
"Black and White" - Just a Feeling
Lightman tells FBI agent Reynolds his evaluation of Dillon was based on a feeling, not on science. When I have a strong feeling that someone is lying, and don’t know why I have that feeling, I regard it as an important data point, and if I have video I review it again and again. If I am doing the interview – and all to rarely do I get to ask the questions, instead having to put up with other people’s questioning – I will go back and question the interviewee repeatedly in different ways to try to find out what was the basis for my feeling. I would never submit a judgment that someone is lying based solely on a feeling, but then Dr. Lightman enjoys being cheeky, and I bet he is lying when he says that to get a reaction.
Quote:
"Darkness and Light" - Arm-folding
While Foster says Lacey’s arm-folding is a sign of defensiveness, and some clinicians do make this claim, I don’t know of reliable scientific evidence to support this interpretation. Maybe... maybe not.
Quote:
"Darkness and Light" - Justifiable Lie
Because of their fear that Molly is too fragile to know that her mother’s death was caused by the toys she left out on the staircase, the Lightman group decides it is justifiable to lie to her and tell her it was Amy who left the toys out. Amy agrees to the lie. Sometimes, I do believe, it is justifiable to lie, to save a life, to prevent terrible cruelty or psychological harm, as in this example. It is a dangerous move, because lying can become a habit. Or a lie may be told not to protect or help the victim of the liar, but to enable the liar to get away with something – for example the husband who believes his wife really doesn’t want to know about his affairs, wants him to lie to her about it. I wished there was a little more discussion about whether the lie was justifiable, but I am glad the issue was raised in this show.
Quote:
"Exposed" - Mistaken Expression
Foster shows Loker and Torres a photograph of Burns that Lightman had taken. Torres says its fear. We only see it briefly but for those in the TV audience who record the programs and might freeze frame the expression to check on Torres, I had better point out that Torres got it wrong. It is a minor matter, but in the past if I don’t point out a minor error in interpreting facial expressions or other behaviors, I am deluged with complaining emails.

Burns' facial expression is not fear but perplexity, concentration, or determination. The signal is the furrowing of his brows. Darwin called the muscle that generates this appearance the muscle of difficulty. It is activated whenever any difficulty is confronted, mental or physical. If you have to subtract 837 from 2941, even reading that mental arithmetic task is likely to activate this muscle. It also participates in combination with other muscles in the expressions of sadness, anger and fear; but in fear the brows would also be raised and the upper eyelid would be raised as well.
Quote:
"Exposed" - Yawns
Lightman says that Harris’ nervous yawn means he is hiding something. That could be so, but yawns occur for many reasons. One of those reasons is nervousness, which Lightman mentions, but nervousness itself has many different causes, only one of which is concern about something being hidden.
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  #5  
  10-07-2011, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
"Exposed" - Anguish
Immediately after the police cars drive up and force Preston to come out of the van, there is a good view of Foster’s expression. She shows a very accurate depiction of anguish, a member of the sadness family of emotions. The eyebrows are pulled up in the center of her forehead, angling down, her cheeks are raised her mouth slack, and her breathing rapid.
Quote:
"Pied Piper" - Infallible
This program raises again and again the question of whether Lightman is infallible. Does he make mistaken judgments about whether someone is lying or guilty of a crime? Those are not the same. Not everyone suspected of committing or planning a crime tells the truth about everything. Most people have something to hide. And once an innocent person knows he or she is suspected of a crime, the suspect may conceal and falsify about some matters. Sometimes it is past actions that if known might put the suspect in a bad light, increasing the chances that the police will think they have the right person. Sometimes the lie is to cover up some other misdeed – the person who was in bed with his wife’s sister at the time the crime was committed is not likely to truthfully acknowledge it, but falsely claim to have been somewhere else. Anger about being under suspicion, fear of being disbelieved, excitement at the challenge of outwitting the cops, are some of the emotions an innocent suspect may feel but try to conceal.

While Lightman has only once acknowledged making a mistake – in a past program he described not recognizing an Irish terrorist, who when released killed some people. I and other experts know that the science we engage in is not perfect. Under the best of conditions – when the lie is told for the first time with no chance to practice, and the punishment if caught would be severe – we still make mistakes about ten percent of the time. We disbelieve some truthful people, we believe some liars, and sometimes we have no basis for making any decision. That is the reality. That is why I don’t try to testify about whether a particular person is lying or truthful, although I am willing to explain to the jury what they should be alert to and what supersititions and stereotypes they should avoid.

Even people like Torres, a so-called natural, (we call them wizards), makes mistakes sometimes. But remember this is an entertainment program that draws on science, it isn’t science, and it is not the real world. Every problem gets wrapped up in under one hour.
Quote:
"Headlock" - Concealment & Falsification
When Foster reveals she has accidentally found his passport and there is a different name on it, Burns tells Foster he is DEA uncover agent. While admitting that he has withheld information from her, he proclaims that he never told her anything that was untrue. Burns is describing the two main techniques for perpetrating a lie: concealment (withholding information) and falsification (saying something that is untrue). Although some people regard concealment as not really lying that is not the way I regard it. Unless there is prior agreement that certain matters will be kept private, concealment misleads the target, without the targets permission or foreknowledge. Surely in an intimate relationship, such as Foster has with Burns, there is an expectation that important information wont be withheld.

Many people regard concealment as more innocent than falsification. And in some situations there is nearly explicit agreement that concealment will occur. In diplomacy, for example, diplomats expect that they and their counterparts will conceal a great deal of information. Saying something false is not expected and violates the unwritten rules, forever destroying a diplomat’s credibility. It doesn’t matter that the diplomat thought he was telling the truth – Collin Powell, according to his later accounts, believed he was being truthful when he claimed in his UN speech that there was convincing evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Having been fed false information, he was telling the truth, as he knew it. Once a diplomat has been used in this way, others no longer trust what he or she says.

I believe it is important to establish in advance explicitly what are the rules of disclosure that will be followed. My employees know that if I am considering terminating their employment they will receive at least a months advance notice. My wife and I agreed prior to marriage that a casual kiss need not be disclosed, but an intimate kiss – one that lingered, involved the tongue, caressing other body parts, etc. – had to be disclosed. My children knew that if they got into trouble in school – held after class, sent to the principal, etc. – they had to report it to us. My wife and I didn’t need to ask them each night at the dinner table ‘did you get into trouble at school today?’ They were obligated to volunteer it if that happened.
Quote:
"Bullet Bump" - Assassin's Gaze
Lightman says "There is no such thing as an assassin’s gaze." I have been doing research to determine if there is such an expression – not just a gaze – that appears before a premeditated physical assault. I am close to an answer, but the research is not yet finished, so Lightman is right – we don’t yet know if there is an expression that might warn of an impending assassination attempt.
Quote:
"Bullet Bump" - Saying First and Last Names
Foster comments on the governor separating the first and last name of the victim, Michelle. My hunch is that the governor responded to Lightman’s question about the name of the victim with just her first name, because he is closely associated with her, and then noticing that he might be revealing that closeness added the last name to make his knowledge of her seem less personal.
Quote:
"Bullet Bump" - Famous Lip Presses
The governor’s lip-press when Lightman accuses him of having sex with Michelle, and the lip presses shown by Spitzer, Clinton and other celebrities (but not by Edwards), only mean that the person is feeling the need to control what is felt or said. It doesn’t tell us more than that.
Quote:
"Bullet Bump" - Flared Nostrils
Torres says that what Corey did with his nostrils shows her he wanted the governor dead. As best I can see he didn’t do much with his nostrils, and if he did it would not prove what Torres claims. Nostril dilation or nostril elongation movements can occur with anger or anguish.
Quote:
"Bullet Bump" - Not Surprised
Torres says Corey’s facial expression shows that he is surprised, so the weapon isn’t his. But the expression doesn’t actually show surprise – the eyes don’t widen, the jaw isn’t dropped open, and only one eyebrow is raised.
Quote:
"Bullet Bump" - Absence of Emotion
The absence of emotion in Michelle’s story about hitting and killing a man convinces Foster she didn’t do it. The absence of emotion is important only when you are certain this is a person, who like most people, does show her emotions. In a famous Australian case, a mother was convicted because she didn’t show any emotion when talking about her missing child. Eventually she was freed when the child’s bones were found in a wild dog’s lair. Meryl Streep played that emotionless mother in "Cry in the Dark."
Quote:
"Bullet Bump" - Emotional Wildfire
Loker tells Lightman that he has an emotional wildfire where Emily is concerned. This is a concept I introduced when emotions are aroused so strongly that the person is unable to control his or her actions.
Quote:
"Delinquent" - Involvement is Blinding
Lightman tells Torres "you are too close to this to see it clearly," that her involvement with her sister is blinding her. This is an example of how our commitment to a relationship, whether it is a loving trusting one, or a conflicted distrustful one, blocks our recognition of how that person really feels. Our involvement prevents us from seeing anything that doesn’t fit with our involvement. There has been very little research on this, although it is consistent with a study I did decades ago in which total strangers were more accurate in spotting lies than were the person’s spouse.
Quote:
"Delinquent" - Ethical Commitment
Burns was caught in conflict between his professional obligation to Marley, who trusted him by revealing she was pregnant, and his professional obligation to report her pregnancy, which would have resulted in her transfer to another facility. If he had not followed his ethical commitment to Marley, the resulting transfer would have saved her life. Of course he didn’t know that then. He acted honorably but that doesn’t prevent him from feeling guilty about the unexpected consequence.
Quote:
"Delinquent" - Expression of Anger
When Foster gets angry at Torres for disbelieving her sister Foster shows a near perfect angry expression: eyebrows pulled down, eyes widened, lips squared. Notice also the pulsing vein in her forehead. But, there is a mix of anguish in her face and voice, not an uncommon addition to the anger felt by some women.
Quote:
"Delinquent" - Loyalty
Ava explains that she didn’t tell Torres about the egg because she had promised Marley she would keep her secret, and she keeps her promises. Loyalty to a friend is one of the eight reasons why people lie. It is a reason for lying that usually earns some respect, even from the victims of the lie.
Quote:
"Teachers & Pupils" - Shadow Me
No one has asked to follow me around in order to learn how to spot lies. I was been asked to evaluate whether people giving financial reports on next quarters earnings are being truthful. And once I sat in when someone was being deposed, feeding questions to the attorney when I saw hot spots – signs that the person being questioned was not being forthcoming. Mostly I give workshops to those who want to learn how to improve their ability to identify lying and truthfulness, and most of those workshops are for law enforcement and national security.
Quote:
"Teachers & Pupils" - Duping Delight
Duping delight, but can occur with truthful person, not likely in this context when his own future is at stake. But some people feel superior to law enforcement officers and enjoy being suspected when they know the police are on the wrong track. And some innocent people enjoy the risk, the danger of being under suspicion of a crime they didn’t commit.
Quote:
"React to Contact" - Brain Scanning
There are a few problems with the use of brain scanning (fMRI) in this episode. The scientific evidence for a pattern of brain activity when exposed to an angry face has not been consistent. Even if we were to assume the evidence is better than it is, I disagree with what Lightman says about it. He tells Jeff it is OK to respond to anger expressions in battle but not at home. The issue instead should be what Jeff does, how he acts, when he sees an angry expression.

In the show Jeff is told he showed the same pattern of brain activity to a neutral expression as he did to the angry expression. But the scientific evidence for brain activity in response to neutral expressions is weak, only a few studies with a small number of subjects, and is not specific to PTSD but also observed with social phobic’s and autistic individuals. Expert, Professor Richard Davidson told me that responses to neutral expressions don’t tell us much more than the person cares about the face.

A further problem is that the face claimed to be neutral is not, but shows a slightly contemptuous smirk.
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  10-07-2011, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
"React to Contact" - Virtual Reality
The use of virtual reality to have a person with PTSD re-experience the traumatic event, is a new very inventive, and promising approach. I am very glad to see this work being done and the public finding out about it.
Quote:
"React to Contact" - Real Life
Captain Renshaw tells Foster and Torres he is familiar with Dr. Lightman’s work, read his book at West Point and learned how to read faces. This would not be the first time the show uses an event from my own life and work. It might be a coincidence but I probably told the writers or the creator of the show that I spent three days at West Point in November of 2009.

I was impressed with the cadets and the instructors, and was glad they found my work on micro facial expressions to be interesting. Renshaw says he can’t tell them how many soldiers he helped save, because of what he learned about my work. That also is based on a real event, which I remember telling the Lie To Me people about, when I was told that my training tool METT (The Micro Expressions Training Tool), was being used in Afghanistan by our soldiers, and that spotting concealed emotions was saving lives.
Quote:
"React to Contact" - Gestural Slip
Foster observes that Becky nodded her head 'yes' when Torres asked if something is going on between her and Ronnie, another soldier who is living above their apartment. I call these gestural slips, the equivalent of slips of the tongue. They leak true feelings, involuntarily, and usually they are quite small – much smaller than the head bobbing shown by Becky -- only a fragment of the full gesture. The very next instant Becky is told that sucking in her cheek is a sign she is trying to wipe away an obvious emotion – this is not supported by my research or research that I know of by others.
Quote:
"The Whole Truth" - Sadness Over Guilt
Lightman says Clara shows more sadness than guilt.It is still unclear whether there is a distinctive facial expression for guilt, which is different from what is seen in sadness. Lightman would probably be basing his judgment on the lack of any attempt to hide the face, with a hand, or by turning away, which some scientists, but not all, believe occurs most often with either guilt or shame, but not sadness. When sadness is severe, when the person is resigned to helpless, hopeless feelings, the head is not held up but instead the head slumps, the chin is down, and gaze is downward or the eyes are closed. When the other phase of sadness – anguish – is felt, then the gaze may be directed outwards seeking help.
Quote:
"The Whole Truth" - Sign of Disgust
The prosecuting attorney tells Lightman he needs to know by the end of the day if Lightman will testify. When he says otherwise he will have to go to the Radar firm -- Lightman’s former protégé turned competitor -- Cal shows a beautiful expression of disgust.
Quote:
"The Whole Truth" - Reading Jurors
Lightman asks Torres and Loker to watch the jurors to see how they are reacting. There are experts who have read my work, (but not been trained by me) who do just such work. I won’t. I think it unfairly advantages the side that has the money to pay the expert, which usually is the defense not the prosecution.
Quote:
"The Whole Truth" - Presidential Example
Foster preps the son how to respond if the prosecutor accuses him of framing his stepmother showing him how President Obama calmly responded when a Congressman shouted "You lie" during his State of the Union address. The President paused, and then replied firmly without raising hPresidential is voice. I often get asked to comment on politicians, but I never do so until they are out of office. I don’t want any taxpayer to complain that I am using expertise developed with public funding to advance a partisan cause. But I can’t stop Lie To Me from doing so, and they did get it correctly.
Quote:
"The Whole Truth" - Fidgeting
Foster tells Vic to fold his hands to avoid fidgeting. Good advice because people respond to fidgeting as a sign of lying. It isn’t; it is just a sign of nervousness or discomfort, often shown by innocent people who are under suspicion.
Quote:
"Sweet Sixteen" - Terrified Sick
When Lightman says to his daughter Emily -- "Where have you been? I was worried sick" -- we don’t really hear the full meaning of all his words. Phrases such as "I was worried sick" are used too often for us to register them fully. If Lightman had said ‘I was so worried that I nearly threw up’ or ‘I was so worried that I got a splitting headache’ we would have heard it fully, because that is a novel combination of words not a cliché.

Worry refers to a moderate level of fear; not strong enough to make the worried person sick. It would make more sense if the phrase was: ‘I was terrified sick.’ Very intense emotions, when prolonged over time, can produce physical illness. Lightman was probably not terrified; for Foster earlier had given him an explanation for why it was taking Emily a long time to get to the office – the traffic jam produced by the explosion. So Lightman really wasn’t so worried that he was sick, but the phrase popped out because it is a cliché in which parents emphasize that the worry is a serious one, not trivial.
Quote:
"Sweet Sixteen" - Blind Spot
Lightman says to Foster "since we are so close that makes you, scientifically speaking, my blind spot". Ordinarily Lightman would know if someone was lying but because of his blind spot he cant know whether Foster is lying when she claimed that she didn’t know their therapy sessions seven years ago were being recorded. He doesn’t want to believe she would lie to him, because of their close relationship.

We are more biased than blinded by people with whom we have a close relationship. We don’t want to know unpleasant truths about them, which is why the last person to know she or he is being sexually betrayed is the person who is being betrayed. Long after it was obvious to friends the victim of the betrayal doesn’t pick up on it – but the friends do not have a blind spot generated by closeness.
Quote:
"Sweet Sixteen" - Guilt vs. Shame
Foster tells Lightman that he feels "…Responsible [for the death of Doyle’s wife and daughter], ashamed, guilty…" When I teach police I emphasize the difference between guilt and shame. The way in which I use those terms, guilt describes feelings about something we have done. We are motivated to confess, to expiate our guilt. By acknowledging our wrong action, we can seek forgiveness, and try to make up for what we did. Not so with shame. It is not an action but our very self that we are ashamed of. We are motivated to hide not confess, for if the other person actually knew us they would be revolted. No forgiveness, but intense disgust would result from exposure of our shameful nature.
Quote:
"Sweet Sixteen" - Duping Delight
In the closing words of this program Foster says that "it depends on the lie" how well she can succeed. The lie she told Lightman was to protect him and his family, a lie that she felt was justified. She would not have felt any guilt about lying, nor any excitement (which I call duping delight), about this lie.
Quote:
"Beat the Devil" - Hotspot
Lightman and Foster tell the students possible but not necessary interpretations of the behavior they show to them. When Nixon looks down and hesitates it could be generated by an attempt to lie, but it could just as well be the product of being cautious in choosing his words, or as one of the students suggests, that he was checking his notes before giving a reply. An innocent person who knows he is under suspicion would be wise to be cautious about what he says, careful to check his notes. That is why we would call this a hot spot not a lie, it suggests something more is happening than what is being revealed, but only further questioning might reveal whether it is caution or a lie.

Foster says that crossed arms are defensive. Could be, but it could also be because the person is cold, feeling insecure, or stretching. Another hotspot. When a student challenges her Foster says that one such hotspot is not sufficient but many show lying; probably, but not necessarily. It would certainly take more than the two shown here to convince me.

I sympathized with the students who questioned whether Lightman remembered what he wrote in his book (my book, Telling Lies). I often get that impression.

Before Lightman begins his demo that he can spot whether the student Martin is lying, Martin quotes Telling Lies that without stakes there is no fear of being caught, hence no leakage that would betray a lie. Lightman then puts $100 down, which Martin will get if Lightman fails. That is better than no reward or a trivial reward (which has been typical in most research on deception), but our research found that it is not enough. The important stake is punishment, severe or humiliating punishment if caught. That is more likely to produce the overload on feeling and thinking that generates many hotspots.
Quote:
"Beat the Devil" - Regret's Expression
Loker says that Andre was feeling regret when he looked down and away. Maybe, but that is not an evidence-based interpretation. There is a family of related feelings -– disappointment, discouragement, regret, guilt, shame, sadness -– that may be signaled by this expression. To my knowledge the research to link it to just one member of the family has yet to be done.
Quote:
"Tractor Man" - Smiling Speaker
Foster tells Lightman that she can hear from his voice that Miller is smiling. It is not only the inflection that reveals the smile, but the smiling lips change the length of the vocal channel from which sounds are emitted. Many advertisers use announcers who sound as if they are smiling, because we like to hear that sound.
Quote:
"Tractor Man" - Telling a Child the Truth
When the little boy, Oscar, overhears Lightman and Steele talking about the bomb, Lightman tells Oscar the truth. It is very out of character for Lightman not to lie to deal with a problem or get information. He has lied repeatedly in previous programs. Was he truthful to Oscar because he doesn’t want to lie to a child? Or was he unable to think of a way to lie his way out, because Oscar had heard too much?
Quote:
"Tractor Man" - Terrorist's Posture
Lightman tells Reynolds you need to look for the posture and gaze of a terrorist, but he doesn’t say what it is. That is not because the information is too valuable to be revealed on TV. Although I am working to identify the signs in expression, gaze or posture that might reveal someone is a terrorist; I don’t have the answers yet, and may not find them. A right-wing extremist terrorist might not show the same expression as a Sunni or Shiite terrorist, and they may not show the same appearance.
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  10-07-2011, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
"Fold Equity" - Change is Hard
Cal: "things change." Foster: "but people don’t…" Cal proves Foster right when he secretly gambles. It would have been more accurate if Foster had said, "most adults don’t" because change is harder, not impossible, but harder by the end of the teens. Of course it also depends on what aspect of a person Cal and Foster were referring to.
Beliefs, thinking patterns, attitudes are far easier to change than emotional make-up, such as how quickly and strongly one becomes emotional, and what triggers an emotion. Even that can be changed, often for the worse, by severe trauma as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Addictions, whether to a recreational drug, alcohol or gambling are notoriously difficult but not impossible to change, at least the behavior can change if not the temptation.
Quote:
"Fold Equity" - Triumph, Fiero
Cal notes he also loves this and there are quick shots of people in triumph. Most often triumph is felt during a contest as in the examples shown, when an opponent is beat in a competition. But a feeling of triumph can also occur when you stretch yourself to your limit and beyond, achieving something difficult. No competition except with yourself. The Italians have a word for this: fiero. I feel it when I have been struggling for an hour to find a sentence that explains something, and suddenly I get it, the sentence sings, and I feel fiero, delighted I was able to do it.
Quote:
"Fold Equity" - Genuine Smile
Loker is correct, the mark that it is genuine smile, not a social or false smile, is the activation of the outer parts of the muscle that orbits the eye, in Latin orbicularis oculi, pars lateralis, in FACS terms AU 6. We have done a number of experiments that verifies that it is only when this muscle is active in addition to the muscle that produces the smile – zygomatic major, AU 12 --that enjoyment is felt. The catch is that it is very, very difficult to distinguish whether AU 6 is active in a broad smile. The only clue is a very slight lowering of the eyebrows and the skin between the eyebrow and the eyelid – the eye cover fold. Most people don’t recognize when that occurs; even with training it isn’t easy to spot, but possible.
Quote:
"Secret Santa" - Fear is Good
Foster tells Lightman fear is healthy. Fear is aroused when danger is sensed. The danger can be sensed in an instant, in the blink of an eye, before we are consciously aware of the threat. Fear mobilizes us to take the necessary actions that sometimes save our lives. Consider the near miss car accident: before we are aware of the danger, in a split second, our fear of the impending harm, pumps blood into the large muscles of our legs preparing us to run, changes our facial expression to signal others who see us that there is an impending threat, makes complex evaluations of the speed and angle of the car heading towards us, and enables us to make the necessary adjustment in steering wheel, gas, and brake. And all of this occurs without thought, without our even knowing or consciously planning what to do.

If we had to make those decisions consciously it would be too slow to avert sudden danger. We wouldn’t be able to drive on freeways at high speeds unless we had a fear mechanism that can sense danger and mobilize actions so quickly. Fear evolved in the environments of our ancestors where predators such as saber-tooth tigers presented sudden threat, which had to be dealt with immediately. If humans had not lived most of the time they have been on this planet in such an environment, we would today not be able to drive more than 15 miles an hour. Of course fear can be mobilized by threats that can’t be resolved quickly if at all; for example waiting for the outcome of a test to determine if we have a malignancy. When there is nothing we can do to cope with a threat we can be overwhelmed by fear.

CAVEAT: How the Lightman Group spots lies is largely based on findings from my research. Because it is a drama not a documentary, Dr. Lightman is not as tentative about interpreting behavior as I am. Lies are uncovered more quickly and with more certainty than it happens in reality. But most of what you see is based on scientific evidence. Each show also provocatively raises the complex psychological and ethical issues involved in perpetrating and uncovering lies. In this weekly BLOG I explain more about the science behind what you have been seeing and when the show takes poetic license.
Quote:
"Secret Santa" - Just a Shrug
Lightman says that his shoulder begs to differ. When the shrug occurs as the gestural equivalent of a slip of the tongue, it is usually much smaller that what was shown here, a fragment of the full gesture, and it contradicts the words, which also didn’t happen at this moment in the program.
Quote:
"Secret Santa" - Never 100%
Lightman says it is 70% certain he is lying; it is not an exact science. It isn’t. Sometimes it is 90% certain, but it is never 100% certain. Evaluating demeanor can be helpful, but it isn’t foolproof and it is never perfect.
Quote:
"Black Friday" - Interrogation Questioning
Lightman gives the young boy Max some tips about how to ask questions when he interviews the couple he suspects are not really his parents. Don’t ask them questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. That is one of the tips I always emphasize with police. You want people to use as many words as possible. The more words someone speaks the easier it is to determine if the person is being truthful; a pretty strong research finding. It is much easier to lie if you only have to say one word: yes or no. But in the courtroom in which juries have to evaluate the truthfulness of witnesses and defendants, the questions always have to be asked so that they can be answered with a simple yes or no. That is one of the many reasons why it is so hard to spot lies in a courtroom.

Max says that Lightman said in his book the best interrogations are when you can watch and don’t have to ask the questions. That is because having to ask the questions distracts some of your attention from observing everything the suspect is saying and doing. But sometimes it is crucial for the one doing the observing to be able to ask the question that pushes the suspect to stop dodging and directly answer. So it is ideal if there are two people doing the interviewing, who take turns as the need arises, as to who questions and who watches.

CAVEAT: How the Lightman Group spots lies is largely based on findings from my research. Because it is a drama not a documentary, Dr. Lightman is not as tentative about interpreting behavior as I am. Lies are uncovered more quickly and with more certainty than it happens in reality. But most of what you see is based on scientific evidence. Each show also provocatively raises the complex psychological and ethical issues involved in perpetrating and uncovering lies. In this weekly BLOG I explain more about the science behind what you have been seeing and when the show takes poetic license.
Quote:
"Black Friday" - Old Details
Lightman and Foster are certain Mrs. Knox is lying because she recalls a small detail from 16 years ago. While such details are not usually remembered, it is far from certain that such a memory would always be false. Poetic license.
Quote:
"Black Friday" - Fake Anger
Loker says Delicia faked anger because her anger did not include lowering her eyebrows and pressing or tightening her lips. He probably would be right, but the only reliable sign that anger is being faked is the absence of tightening or narrowing the red area of the lips. It is reliable because most people can’t make that movement deliberately, so it rarely appears in false anger. Most people can easily lower their brows or press their lips, if they remember to do so.
Quote:
"Black Friday" - Covering Your Gonads
Covering your gonads might be a protective maneuver, but I would be very hesitant to tell someone who made that movement it was a sign he felt vulnerable. To extend that to explaining why Churchill put his hat in his lap is quite a reach. Where else can you put your hat if you are not going to wear it? But… It is not totally implausible, and it does move the story forward.
Quote:
"Lack of Candor" - Face to Face With the Target
Lightman is correct. It is generally believed that people find it harder to lie when they confront the person who is the target of their lie. That is why with very rare exceptions when a defendant testifies it must be in front of the victim. I don’t know of any research that has actually tested this idea. Maybe it is so obvious that no one wants to bother. But then it seems obvious that the world is flat.

CAVEAT: How the Lightman Group spots lies is largely based on findings from my research. Because it is a drama not a documentary, Dr. Lightman is not as tentative about interpreting behavior as I am. Lies are uncovered more quickly and with more certainty than it happens in reality. But most of what you see is based on scientific evidence. Each show also provocatively raises the complex psychological and ethical issues involved in perpetrating and uncovering lies. In this weekly BLOG I explain more about the science behind what you have been seeing and when the show takes poetic license.
Quote:
"Lack of Candor" - Betrayal of Trust
Trust is a matter of faith -- that the person who is trusted wont exploit that trust. Intimacy in close working relationships, romance, and friendships requires, depends on trust. Yet it is well known that the last person to realize he or she is being sexually betrayed is the person betrayed, whose trust blocked out recognition of any the signs of betrayal that everyone else picked up.

We don’t want to learn that our trust has been betrayed: That the person you hired is embezzling? That your children are stealing money from your wallet or purse? It is terrible to discover that trust has been betrayed, and most of us avoid any clues to that discovery.

Once trust has been betrayed can it ever be restored? Not everyone can. Even when the betrayal is forgiven, when the betrayed person doesn’t want to give up the relationship, it may be hard to completely trust again. That is the price of lying about serious matters – the loss of trust, which may never be restored. Suspicion, the opposite of trust, undermines relationships that matter, and make the suspicious person miserable.
All of us face a choice about trust: do we take the risk of being misled by trusting, based on faith; or do we take the risk of not only disbelieving a truthful person, but never being able to establish close connections because of our suspicious distrust?
Quote:
"Lack of Candor" - Yes Means No
Foster points out that she is nodding yes when she is saying no, a gestural equivalent of a slip-of-the-tongue. I discovered gestural slips in my very first study of nonverbal behavior during graduate school. The one shown in the program – nodding yes when saying no I have seen in serious crimes. The person usually has no idea that his or her action has exposed the lie.
Quote:
"Grievous Bodily Harm" - Reading Friends
We later find out that Terry lied when he said he just owed twelve grand. Did Lightman miss it? With people we know well and with whom we are emotionally involved, we often fail to recognize signs of lying. We want to believe them; we overlook what total strangers might recognize. That’s why the cuckolded spouse is the last one to know what is happening.
Quote:
"Grievous Bodily Harm" - Poker
Twice winners of the international poker tournament in Las Vegas sought me out. They claimed that they had won (more than a million dollars!) because they could spot bluffs. I tested them on how well they could distinguish lies from truthful responses during an interrogation. They were not much better than chance. Their knowledge was specialized to the very few behaviors that were shown in classical poker games – picking up cards, putting them down, moving chips, making a movement to indicate the wish to draw more cards. Today, in televised poker the game has changed; people talk for the camera and to each other, so my work might have more application.
Quote:
"Grievous Bodily Harm" - Homicidal Intent
Torres claims that the student’s body language and face show homicidal intent. I have been working for a number of years to identify when a person is about to physically assault someone. The research is not yet finished, and I don’t know yet if it will succeed. Unfortunately, some people who know my findings are not treating them as preliminary, but are going ahead to train people before the findings are in.
Quote:
"Grievous Bodily Harm" - Suicidal Intent
Foster realizes she misinterpreted signs of suicidal intent as homicidal intent. Both are very hard to spot; although they share signs of determination.
Quote:
"Grievous Bodily Harm" - Shrug Fragment
Lightman says "it is what we call in the trade a shrug fragment". Symbolic gestures, like the shrug, don’t add much new information when they repeat what is said. But just a fragment of the gesture can leak true feelings or beliefs, like a slip of the tongue, contradicting the words. After facial expressions gestures that contradict the words are the most important clue that some one may be lying.
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  #8  
  10-07-2011, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
"Honey" - Inconsideration
Attending a social mixer Lightman flirts with Cynthia, the curator who is the ex-wife of Lightman’s client. Cleverly he entices her into telling him that she was never unfaithful during her marriage. But did Lightman need to dump her in such a thoughtless way, waiting for him to return from feeding a parking meter? He could have told her he had to go to a prearranged meeting. His inconsideration for how she will feel when he doesn’t reappear doesn’t fit with Lightman’s caring attitudes towards his own ex-wife, his daughter, and Foster.
Quote:
"Honey" - Innocent Runners
The FBI agent Ben says innocent people don’t run. That is not always so; innocent people run when they are convinced they will be wrongly judged, as is in the case here.
Quote:
"Honey" - False Inference Dodge
What Foster calls a 'false inference dodge' is giving a tangential rather than direct answer to a question. Foster: "Did you kill Connie?" McHenry: "I am not even going to dignify that with an answer."
Quote:
"Honey" - Seemingly
The FBI agent Ben says, "This guy’s the killer." Torres replies, "He seemed believable when he said he was innocent." Ben replies, "It seems… that’s not good enough." In real life when you have to evaluate truthfulness from demeanor it is never more certain than "it seems." And police officers, like Ben, always want more.
Quote:
"Honey" - Expression of Anger
After Torres remarks that Matthieson’s wife has to clean up after his messes, Lightman says "that will do Torres," and he shows a beautiful anger expression: brows lowered, glaring eyes, and most importantly the upper lip narrowed and lower lip tightened.
Quote:
"Honey" - Soft Voice
Mike, the guy who loaned the money and had the fling with Connie is confronted with the tape recorder. Foster says "that’s how it happened isn’t that right?" Mike replies "no that’s not how it happened" but his voice is very soft. We have found that a sudden shift to soft-voice is suggestive that the person is lying.
Quote:
"Control Factor" - Not Perfect
Glad to see Lightman acknowledge that he does not know if he can find the young girl’s mother. Usually he doesn’t admit that he can’t always solve problems, or spot liars.
Quote:
"Control Factor" - Rivals
I also have rivals, but we are anything but friendly. But as you soon find out neither are Lightman and rival Jack Radar. Jack once worked with Lightman who was his mentor. It turned out badly, so we have to conclude that Lightman did not recognize early enough that Jack was untrustworthy. I have made the same mistake. It happens when your hopes for a possible co-worker blind you to spotting the warning signs that everyone else sees.
Quote:
"Control Factor" - Distractions
It is a clever idea -- staging a distraction that might cause an innocent person to complain about the delay. I suspect that a person who is guilty doesn’t say anything, in an attempt to not draw attention, just as it is shown here. I have never used such a ruse, and no one I know has, but maybe I will try it.
Quote:
"Control Factor" - Change in Anger
Lightman is inappropriately angry with his daughter Emily. We aren’t told what is setting him off. But he definitely is much more irascible than last season. But people do change, not always for the better.
Quote:
"Control Factor" - Sicko Alert
Pupil dilation does indicate arousal, but it could be anger or fear, for example, not the sexual arousal or excitement Loker suspects – "sicko alert".
Quote:
"Control Factor" - Micro-mini Expression
When the driver says he never did anything with the tainted blood, he shows a beautiful mini expression, a very tiny sign of disgust. It is also very brief, so it is a micro-mini!
Quote:
"Control Factor" - Another Indicator
It actually does really happen. Criminals will look at or touch what they fear may be found by the police. Just today a detective told me how a suspected drug dealer when approached by the detective patted his breast pocket. Sure enough that is where the dope was.
Quote:
"Truth or Consequences" - Experts' Findings
Lightman tells his ex-wife that whatever he finds out he will disclose both to her, the defense attorney, and the prosecution. That is not the way it usually works. Typically experts can only tell what they find out to those who hired them. If it isn’t useful or might help the opposing side the other side never find out, and neither does the jury.
Quote:
"Truth or Consequences" - Baseline
Knowledge of how someone usually acts when being truthful -- the baseline -- is critical to spotting a lie. We each have our own behavioral style, our own mannerisms. If, for example, someone always talks hesitantly, then hesitant speech is his or her baseline. If such a person were to be hesitant when asked about a crime it doesn’t mean anything. But if it were not the person’s baseline then hesitant speech would raise the possibility of deceit. I usually ask people to tell me about the best and worst experience they had in the last month to discover their usual behavioral repertoire. I don’t ask them to lie, as Dr. Lightman did here, because unless the stakes for being caught are very high, as they would be if convicted of a serious crime, success in lying wont matter enough to arouse the emotions that might betray the liar.
Quote:
"Truth or Consequences" - Medicated Behavior
Painkillers and other medications, as Lightman says, can make it hard to evaluate how someone is behaving.
Quote:
"Truth or Consequences" - Children's Privacy
When Lightman goes into his daughter Emily’s bureau drawer he is invading her privacy. As a parent I know how hard it is to resist the fear that your child may be engaging in dangerous behavior. But invading their privacy will likely teach them to be better liars. I believe it is only justified if the danger is very severe, very likely, and very imminent. It isn’t here.
Quote:
"The Core of It" - Lie Motives
Dr. Lightman tells the bookstore audience he can spot a lie but isn’t able to know what motivated the lie. I have described eight different motives for lying. The most common one is to avoid being punished for breaking a rule, law, etc. The second most frequent motive for lying is to get something more easily or not otherwise obtainable without lying.

My newsletter "Reading Between The Lies," available free on paulekman.com describes the other six motives in newsletter #1.
Quote:
"The Core of It" - Sign of Contempt
Right after Zoe says to Cal "it will take time" she shows a beautiful contempt expression, tightening one lip corner. It’s brief but slower than a micro. John Gottman’s research on marriage found that contempt is a serious indicator of trouble ahead: Zoe and Cal are divorced.
Quote:
"The Core of It" - Multiple Personalities
Loker heralds what is going to come next by crediting handwriting as a reflection of personality – very few scientists who have studied the issue do. A few seconds later Lightman says Trisha has Multiple Personality Disorder. Foster corrects him substituting the more recent label: Dissociative Identity Disorder. She notes that the existence of such a disorder is just barely more plausible than psychic phenomena. While Loker calls it the Holy Grail of psychiatry, there actually is strong disagreement among mental health professionals about whether it is a legitimate diagnosis of a mental disorder which really occurs rather than a suggestible patient’s creation based on media depictions or a therapist’s belief in it. But it sets the stage for an entertaining story and some great acting.
Quote:
"The Core of It" - Heart Rate
Measuring heart rate and blood pressure has the look of science, but does not usually reveal more than what Loker notes -- overall level of emotional arousal. That is also evident in her face, which also usually shows which emotions are being aroused. Blood pressure, heart rate and skin conductance are the traditional measures in what is mistakenly called the ‘polygraph lie detector.’

For a critical evaluation of the polygraph see chapter 7 in my book Telling Lies; for a report focusing on its use in national security read The Polygraph and Lie Detection (on which I was one of the authors) free on the National Academy of Sciences website.
Quote:
"The Core of It" - Fear in the Eyes
Torres says she sees fear in the judge’s eyes, but the frozen video frame is inconclusive. There has to be a lot of white (sclera) exposed above the iris to be certain it is fear.
Quote:
"The Core of It" - Pupil Dilation
Pupil dilation is a sign of sexual arousal, and also the arousal of fear, anger, or excitement.
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  #9  
  10-07-2011, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
"Sacrifice"
I am sorry this commentary on the final program in this year’s season is so late. I was in Europe vacationing when it was shot, unable to see it until I returned. Quite apart from being a very entertaining program, setting the stage for how the increasingly complicated relationships among the actors will unfold in the next season, there were two points briefly made that I believe are very, very important.

Lightman disagreed with Deputy Messler, the woman who was interrogating the suspect Hamza Ali. She was certain that Ali’s fearful facial expression proved he is a terrorist, "he’s scared because he’s been caught." Lightman told her that Ali could be scared because "you’ve thrown him in a cell and threatened to render him." In my book Telling Lies (1985/2009) I called such a failure to recognize that emotions can look the same even though their cause is very different, Othello’s error. In Shakespeare’s play Othello correctly recognized the fear on the face of his wife Desdemona, when she learned that Othello killed the man he mistakenly thought was her lover. Othello believed her fear was about being caught, proof of her infidelity, not considering that it could be a faithful wife’s fear of being disbelieved by an enraged jealous husband. Just like Deputy Messler, Othello didn’t understand that emotions don’t tell you what triggered them. The fear of being caught looks just like the fear of being disbelieved – it’s fear.

When Torres is upset that she failed to recognize a man who was about to become a suicide bomber, Lightman tells her "we all miss things." In 1986 he let a man go who soon afterwards walked into a pub and shot six people. I am very glad that the program acknowledged that you can’t always spot lies from demeanor. Sometimes there are no clues in face, body, voice or speech; or even if there are signs in behavior, you miss them. One of my concerns about the "Lie To Me" series has been that Lightman always caught the liar. I don’t. I sometimes miss. There is no perfect, foolproof way to catch liars, and I bet there never will be, whether you look at their demeanor or at their brain activity.

Go to my website to learn how to spot micro expressions of concealed emotions. And come back next season to read my commentaries on each program -- The Truth About Lie to Me.
Quote:
"Blinded" - Liar or Sociopath?
Foster calls Jenkins a pathological liar; and so does Lightman later in the program. I think the portrayal of Jenkins better fits a sociopath: anti-social, manipulative and exploitive of others for his own entertainment, and charmingly socially skilled.

Sociopaths only lie when it suits their purposes, they are not compelled to lie. Just such a compulsion reputedly is what characterizes pathological liars, who are said to lie even when the target knows they are lying, even when they don't benefit from the lie. I have examined a few people who claimed to be pathological liars but I was not convinced they had no choice. I doubt there really are such people.
Quote:
"Blinded" - Baseline
Jenkins cleverly lies about everything to prevent the establishment of a baseline -- a standard of what he is like when he is truthful. Changes from the baseline are crucial for spotting lies. Jenkins knows this and that is why early in the program he never tells the truth; it is not that he is compelled to lie, he chooses to lie to defeat Lightman's team.
Quote:
"Blinded" - Nostril Flare
The prison guards nostril flair could be a sign of fear, but it also occurs with anger and sadness. The only way to tell which emotion it is would be by the expression on the face, but the actor playing the guard doesn't show an expression of any emotion that I could see when he flared his nostrils...
Quote:
"Blinded" - Look Away
Looking down and away can be a sign of shame but it also occurs in disgust. Which it is could be revealed by the facial expressions but the guard again doesn't show much.
Quote:
"Blinded" - Onset of Anger
Anger can come on slowly, but sometimes genuine anger can be abrupt; it depends on the person and the circumstance. But false anger often has a jagged or stepped, rather than smooth onset onto the face.
To learn more about deception subscribe to my free newsletter Reading Between the Lies at paulekman.com
Quote:
"Undercover" - Baseline
Lightman says he needs to establish a baseline to know what these guys look like when they are not stressed. The term baseline refers to a person’s usual behavior during ordinary circumstances. Changes from that baseline suggest that something important is occurring: it might be the stress of being under suspicion or emotional reactions to telling a lie. Without a baseline we run the risk of misinterpreting unusual behaviors, for we don’t know if the person always acts in that unusual way. It is risky to judge truthfulness without a baseline; hence my practice of never making an important decision based on a single, brief meeting.
Quote:
"Undercover" - Teeth Clench
Antoine is clenching his teeth, which is a nervous habit in some people, but when it is not (which you would know if you had a baseline), teeth clenching suggests an attempt to tightly control what is said or shown.
Quote:
"Undercover" - Ethical Dilemmas
Lightman and Foster argue about an ethical dilemma: is it justifiable to sacrifice the future of an innocent person (Andre) to prevent many people losing their lives. Factors to consider are: a certainty (with Andre going to jail) as compared to a possibility of a terrorist attack that cannot be stopped by any other means; jail (Andre) versus death (terrorist); what you do (Lightman) as compared to what others (antiterrorists) may be doing; and whether you can ever accept acquiescing in an injustice.
Quote:
"Better Half" - Generating Signs of Fear
Lightman tells the boy he will be eaten up by a wolf to increase the boy’s fear of being caught if he was indeed lying. It didn’t generate any signs of fear or lying -- so it did work. But many laymen and professionals would judge that Lightman went too far. My evaluation is that he is on the edge of acceptable practice, which is where Lightman usually likes to be.
Quote:
"Better Half" - Contempt
Garcia, the TV host, angrily says, "You’re damn right I feel contempt." Very often one emotion calls forth another emotion. Lightman’s question "Why did you feel contempt" activated Garcia’s anger that Ambrose didn’t show gratitude for the loan, but thought he was being squeezed to return the money. And then Ambrose’s son’s claim that he saw Garcia leave the house after the fire has made Garcia a suspect. Proof that ‘no good deed goes unpunished!’. The contempt was a covering emotion, which Garcia did feel. He was probably also the using contempt to cover the intense anger beneath it that he didn’t want to reveal.
Quote:
"Better Half" - Surprise
If Frank Ambrose had shown surprise as Lightman claimed, it would indeed show he didn’t know about his wife’s affair. Unfortunately, the actor showed perplexed disbelief, not surprise. In surprise the brows are raised not lowered, and the jaw drops open, with widened eyes. Perplexed disbelief, which he does show, also suggests he didn’t know about the affair.
Quote:
"The Best Policy" - Guilty Knowledge
Lightman is using the guilty knowledge technique, mentioning something that only the guilty not an innocent person will know about and watching for who shows a reaction. This technique is sometimes used in polygraph exams: ‘was the person strangled, shot, stabbed, bludgeoned to death?’ Only the killer knows and is likely to show a physiological reaction when the actual weapon is mentioned. Often the newspapers reveal so much about a crime that this technique can’t be used because everyone knows everything the police know.
Quote:
"The Best Policy" - Pinocchio's Nose
Qualifying statements, such as the one Loker notes, show that something more is happening than is being revealed, but it is not ‘Pinocchio’s nose’, it isn’t certain proof of lying.
Quote:
"The Best Policy" - Natural Performers
Lightman acknowledges that he can be fooled. When we measured every behavior we could see or hear there were still a few people we could not classify as either liars or truth tellers – they are what I call natural performers. They don’t lie more often than other people, but you can’t tell when they do.
Quote:
"The Best Policy" - Friendship
Torres tells Lightman that because of his friendship he is off his game. She is right; when we have a stake in a relationship we are blind to signs of deceit. We don’t want to know truths that would challenge or destroy a cherished relationship.
Quote:
"The Best Policy" - Bite Your Lips
Lip biting in response to critical questions suggests an increase in stress. It could be generated by the fear of being caught or the fear of being disbelieved. It is a hot spot marking the need for Lightman to find out why it occurred.
Quote:
"The Best Policy" - Puffed Up
Charles Darwin, born 200 years ago this year, pointed out that many animals puff themselves up to intimidate an opponent.
Quote:
"Do No Harm" - A Sign
When the therapist grasps the chair arm Lightman interprets it as sign that she agrees that Samantha was abused. It could also be an attempt not to lose control of herself, or what she is willing to reveal.
Quote:
"Do No Harm" - Using Reactions
Lightman talks angrily on the phone to his daughter so Foster can check how Samantha’s parents react:

Their sympathy, then horror is not what you would expect from abusive parents. Lightman used this same trick in earlier programs – seeing how people react to something he does just to see how they react. Without words the listener’s facial expressions provide useful information. Much later in the program Lightman finds out where the other girl is hidden even though Samantha won’t tell him. Her nonverbal reactions to his twenty questions game give it away.
Quote:
"Do No Harm" - Sweating & Swallowing
Profuse sweating when someone is not engaged in effortful activity is usually a sign of strong emotional arousal:
A few minutes later Lightman comments on how Samantha’s repeated swallowing also shows strong emotional arousal. Both sweating and swallowing are driven by the same mechanism.
Quote:
"Do No Harm" - Battered Person Syndrome
The detective asks Lightman if Samantha has Stockholm syndrome. That phrase refers to hostage or kidnap victims identifying with and wanting to protect the person who captured them. Foster says Samantha more likely has battered person syndrome:
Quote:
"Do No Harm" - Ears
Touching your ear can occur for many reasons; while it is not a sign of lying it may be a sign of a nervousness, and the fact that it happens just when Loker asks her about whether she is being truthful suggests there is a problem of some kind:
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  #10  
  10-07-2011, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
"Love Always" - Warnings
What Lightman shows is what I first saw in news footage of Hinckley’s face ten seconds before he shot former President Reagan.

We consider it a warning, not a certainty that someone who shows this expression will soon attack. We have no way to find out how many times that expression is shown and no attack occurs (perhaps because a police officer pays noticeable attention to the potential attacker.) We also cannot know how often attacks occur not preceded by this expression.

My research in five countries, two of them non-Western, strongly suggests that this expression is at least sometimes shown prior to a physical assault. We currently train security and law enforcement to be alert to it. We are continuing research to discover any other dangerous expressions.

You can learn more about what we call d-cube (dangerous demeanor detection) at my site - paulekman.com.
Quote:
"Love Always" - Hot Spots
Lightman tells Loker and Torres to look for hot spots.
I use this phrase for signs of concealed emotions, or emotions that are not being concealed but don’t fit the words, or signs of thinking beyond what would be expected at that moment. Hot spots aren’t proof of lying or dangerous intent. Instead they mark the need to obtain more information to clarify why they were shown.
Quote:
"Love Always" - The Finger
I discovered gestural slips in my very first study of nonverbal behavior, many years ago.
In an experiment I arranged one of my fellow graduate students was being given a hard time by the head of the department. She gave him the finger, just as the best man, Obama, and Rumsfield did. Not out in the open, but much less noticeable. The person showing such a gestural slip is aware of the anger or disdain that he or she feels, but is unaware that the message has leaked out.
Quote:
"A Perfect Score" - Comforting Gestures
Self-comforting gestures reassure an ill at ease person. Other reasons why a person might be uncomfortable would have to be ruled out before interpreting this movement as evidence of lying.
Quote:
"A Perfect Score" - Kids Lie to Parents?
Like Lightman, I rarely challenged my daughter when I knew she was lying. Foster is right; everyone is entitled to privacy; to keep some secrets.

Later in the show Foster tells Emily that Lightman knew she was lying on the phone, but he also knew he shouldn’t challenge her every time she tries to conceal something from him. The show closes with Emily telling Lightman he doesn’t catch all her lies.

My daughter still believes that I didn’t either; that’s because I, too, didn’t challenge her every time she lied. Now, at 28 there rarely is a reason for her to lie to me.

My newsletter advises parents what to consider when they suspect their child is lying. It’s free to subscribe.
Quote:
"A Perfect Score" - We're All Like New Guineans
I went to the highlands of New Guinea in 1967-68 to find out whether people who had no contact with the outside world would show the same expressions as people anywhere else in the world. I took many of the pictures of New Guineans shown on the program.

My research found that Darwin was right: facial expressions of emotion are universal. (see Darwin’s Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, 1872; anniversary edition, which I edited, published by Oxford Univ. Press, 2009.)
Quote:
"Moral Waiver" - METT
Lightman is using METT – our Micro Expression Training Tool. Anyone can learn in an hour to spot these brief signs of concealed emotions. People who have spent as little as twenty minutes using METT can spot hidden feelings. Sales persons become more successful and better liked. It even has helped schizophrenic patients understand facial expressions.
Quote:
"Moral Waiver" - No Emotion
Lightman illustrates how the absence of an emotion – in this case disgust – can be just as important as the presence of an emotion.

A minute later doubt arises about whether Lake was raped because she does not show the emotions typical of a rape victim.

Absent emotions are important again, ten minutes later, when the other female soldiers don’t show the emotional reactions typical when women hear about another woman’s rape.
Quote:
"Moral Waiver" - Partner Up
Many homicide investigators prefer conducting interrogations in teams, one just observing while the other one asks the questions. This is because having to think about what question you are next going to ask takes attention away from noticing subtle shifts in behavior.
Quote:
"Moral Waiver" - Innocent Anger
Lightman mentions that innocent people often are angry when they are under suspicion of a crime. Imagine how you would feel if the police thought you killed your beloved spouse. In addition to your grief about your spouse's death, you would be furious that the police were wasting their time; outraged they suspected you could have killed your spouse. And you might try to conceal those emotions from the police.
Quote:
"Moral Waiver" - The Naturals
We have found more than fifty naturals; and all of them had at least some college education. As a TSA agent Torres would have had training about how to spot signs of dangerous intent and deception from a person’s behavior, provided by the Paul Ekman Group. Still Torres wouldn’t know nearly as much as Lightman about the specifics of how lies are betrayed by behavior, but she would be, as she is in the show, just as good as he is in spotting liars.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Leakage & Emblematic Slips
Dr. Lightman showed the law enforcement class how micro expressions helped him find out where this nasty, Nazi-sympathetic, orange-suited, prisoner had planted a bomb.

While the prisoner kept his mouth shut he couldn’t prevent a micro facial expression of delight slipping out when he learned from Lightman that the FBI was wasting time, searching the wrong church. When Lightman told him he had figured out that the FBI should look elsewhere, the suspect broke his silence: "You don’t know what you are talking about". The leakage this time wasn’t in the face, but a gesture – a one-sided shoulder shrug that contradicted his words. Catching that contradiction reassured Lightman he was going in the right direction.

In these few seconds "Lie To Me" illustrated two of the most valuable sources for clues to deceit. I call them leakage because they occur despite a person’s intention not to reveal the information that leaks out. Typically people who leak don’t get wet; they don’t know that the information has leaked.

Micro facial expressions are involuntary; the person showing a micro expression is unaware of doing it. Most people don’t see micro expressions unless they have obtained training (go to my site if you want to learn how to spot micros as well as Lightman). My newsletter Reading Between the Lies explains more about why and when micro expressions occur, and how to best use the information they reveal.

The prisoner also showed what we call an emblematic slip, the equivalent in gesture of a slip of the tongue. I use the term ‘emblem’ for any gesture that has a precise meaning known to all members of a cultural group – such as the A-OK emblem in the U.S. (Watch out; emblems are specific to each culture. Someone will slug you if make the A-OK emblem in Sicily where it refers to what is considered a perverse sexual practice!)

Typically emblems are made in what I call the ‘presentation position’, very noticeable because they are performed right in front of the person making it and very pronounced, with a beat. Emblematic slips are made outside of the presentation position, and usually they are only a fragment of the full emblem, performed without a beat. That is what the prisoner did, he showed just a fragment of the shrug that means ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t do it’. The person showing the emblematic slip knows what he or she is thinking but doesn’t know it has leaked out. More about emblems in the third issue of my newsletter Reading Between The Lies.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Universal Facial Expressions
More than a hundred years ago Charles Darwin predicted that facial expressions of emotion are universal. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, which I edited, was just published by Oxford University Press.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Looking While Lying
Lightman is right that people often look away when they are trying to remember something, but you might have missed how Lightman could be so certain that it was proof the boy was lying.

People look away when they are thinking carefully and considering each word before it is spoken, not just when they are making it up. The boy knew his teacher was murdered and he is the prime suspect. He would be wise to be cautious in giving his answers. But Lightman noted that the boy wasn’t cautious, didn’t look away, when he answered other questions. It is this difference that made the difference, which justified Lightman’s interpretation. Lightman correctly said that breaking eye contact doesn’t prove lying; that is a myth.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Eyebrows Give You Away
Oblique eyebrows are a very reliable sign of sadness. Very few people can make this movement voluntarily, so it is virtually never faked. And few people can prevent it if they feel sad.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Yes or No?
Lightman commented on the emblematic slip -- shaking the head ‘yes’ very slightly when saying ‘no.’

Note that it was slight, not pronounced. I have seen this in my research subjects when they lie and in real life criminal and celebrity lies many times.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Naturals & Wizards
In inviting Torres the TSA officer to join the Lightman group, Foster called her a natural, one of those people who without training can spot a liar.

We (Dr. Maureen O’Sullivan and I) call them the wizards. They are very rare but they do exist. Dr. O’Sullivan is writing a book about them. The Paul Ekman Group does train TSA surveillance people in what is called the SPOT program (Screening Passengers by Observational Techniques), as does the Lightman group.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Distancing Language
Distancing language is a sign that there is some strong emotion about the topic that the person using that language is trying to step away from. As in "I did not have sex with that woman…"
Quote:
"Pilot" - Going Backwards
Foster’s request that the congressman retell his account of how he spent the night backwards is a standard technique used by many interrogators. Liars prepare a frontwards story and have a much harder time telling the story backwards.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Shame
While there is no facial expression unique to signaling shame, often people who are feeling this emotion try to hide part of their face.
Quote:
"Pilot" - The Polygraph
Foster accurately describes the problem with the polygraph – it only tells you he was feeling guilt not what he was feeling guilt about.

In my newsletter, I describe this problem in more detail because it often leads to misunderstandings, not just in criminal investigations.
Quote:
"Pilot" - Fear Kicks In
Lightman is using information about skin temperature and emotion that Robert Levenson, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, and I discovered. The hands get cold during fear, because the blood flows away from the hands to the large muscles of the legs to prepare for flight. Just the reverse happens with anger, when blood flows to the hands and arms to prepare for fighting, raising the temperature of the hands. It is not that we have to either flee or fight, but evolution has prepared us to do what most people who survived over the history of our species did do.
Quote:
"Pilot - Don't Know the Answer?
When people know the answer to the question they are asked, often the brows are raised; when they don’t know the answer, the brows may be lowered. A tip off that Lightman makes good use of. So can adolescents when their parents ask them, "What time did you come in last night?"
Quote:
About

LIE TO ME scientific advisor Paul Ekman, Ph.D., the world's foremost expert on facial expressions and a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Ekman has served as an advisor to police departments and anti-terrorism groups (including the Transportation Security Administration). He is also the author of 15 books, including "Telling Lies" and "Emotions Revealed."

CAVEAT: How the Lightman Group spots lies is largely based on findings from my research. Because it is a drama not a documentary, Dr. Lightman is not as tentative about interpreting behavior as I am. Lies are uncovered more quickly and with more certainty than it happens in reality. But most of what you see is based on scientific evidence. Each show also provocatively raises the complex psychological and ethical issues involved in perpetrating and uncovering lies. In this weekly BLOG I explain more about the science behind what you have been seeing and when the show takes poetic license.
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