Is it obvious when you lie? 17 Jun 2007
This is a little experiment to test how subtle (or obvious) you come across during the odd occasion that you try to be "creative with the truth." A webcam, speakers and Flash Player 9 are required to take part. For the sake of not spoiling the results, you are asked to do the test first - the theory is explained further down on this page.
Turn on the speakers and set up your webcam so that your face will be seen clearly. Below is a Flash movie that forms the test. Once you allow the page to see your webcam, four mental tasks (lasting less than a minute all together) will be asked of you. Your reactions will be recorded within the Flash movie. Note that this is a temporary recording, local to your computer, and will not be uploaded to any server. Your reactions will then be looped and played back while you read the theory behind this test.
Try to concentrate on what's being said and perform the mental tasks as quickly as you can. There will be a pause of 2-3 seconds between starting and you hearing the first task. Ready? Go!
The flash movie should now be looping the recording so you can turn down your speakers while you read this!
So what's this all about? It's actually inspired by Samuel L Jackson's character in The Negotiator. If you've seen this film, you might recall that at one point SLJ interogates some geezer and basically says that he can tell when he's being lied to through eye movements. I was interested to see how true this might be so made this little experiment. Unfortunately as I know the questions and the idea behind them, I'm still none the wiser about my "tells"... Still, hopefully this might be of use to you, not least in becoming a better lie detector.
The theory is that, if you are right-handed, your eyes look towards your right when you construct something, i.e. lie. More specifically you look upward for visual constructions (like images), just to the side for audio and down for feeling (or kinesthetic) constructions. You look to your left when you're remembering something, i.e. telling the truth. This is technically known as "Neuro Linguistic Programming" (NLP).
Example: Let's say a child asks you for a snack, and you ask them "well, what did your father say?" As they reply "Dad said yes," they look to the left. This would indicate a made up answer as their eyes are showing a constructed image or sound. Looking to the right would indicate a "remembered" voice or image, and thus they would probably be telling the truth.
So, as you have probably worked out by now, the questions asked in the Flash movie were designed to stimulated certain reactions.
- What colour was your first home? You should have been remembering a visual image and therefore you might notice that your eyes went up and to your left. (Up and to the right as you look at yourself.)
- Imagine in your head a high pitched sound. This is an audio construction - sideways to the right.
- Imagine a pink elephant. This is a visual construction - up and to the right.
- Try and remember your mother's voice. This is an audio recollection - sideways to the left.
By the way, if you own a webcam, you might be interested in Flix, which is an application I wrote that makes timelapse videos using a webcam.
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