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Forensic Psychology - Research Review

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Colin Farrell

on 17 December 2013

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Transcript of Forensic Psychology - Research Review

A Critical Review of the Research Paper:
"Cry Me a River: Identifying the Behavioral Consequences of Extremely
High-Stakes Interpersonal Deception"
ten Brinke & Porter (2010)
78 videos of individuals making public pleas for the return of a missing loved one were analysed from news agencies in Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA.

Of these 78 individuals 35 (44.87%) were ultimately convicted of being involved in the murder of the loved one they were pleading for.

Hypotheses 1-4 were tested both in the complete plea as well as the direct appeal for the return of the missing person.

Hypothesis 5 tested the effectiveness of the multi cue model in assessing deception (Porter & ten Brinke, 2010).

Hypotheses 1 and 5 were tested using binary logistic regression analyses (an analysis in which the independent variable is dichotomous - presence or absence of facial expressions).

Hypotheses 2,3 and 4 were tested using MANOVAs, with deception as the between subjects independent variable in each analysis.
Complete Plea
Hypothesis 1 supported - Untruthful pleaders exhibited an absence of upper and lower facial expressions indicating genuine sadness.

Hypothesis 2 rejected - Untruthful pleaders did not exhibit slower speech rate or speak more hesitantly than genuine pleaders.

Hypothesis 3 partially supported - More tentative words were used by untruthful pleaders, however there was no significant difference in number of pronouns used or the percentage of positive/negative emotional words.

Hypothesis 4 rejected - Blink and gaze aversion rate were not higher in untruthful pleaders.
Direct Appeal
Hypothesis 1 supported - Untruthful pleaders exhibited an absence of upper and lower facial expressions indicating genuine sadness.

Hypothesis 2 supported - Untruthful pleaders exhibited slower speech rate and spoke more hesitantly than genuine pleaders.

Hypothesis 3 partially supported - More tentative words were used by untruthful pleaders, however there was no significant difference in number of pronouns used or the percentage of positive/negative emotional words.

Hypothesis 4 supported - Blink and gaze aversion rate were higher in untruthful pleaders.
Coding Procedure
The videos were reviewed and coded for behavioural, emotional and verbal signs of deception.
They assessed each video in terms of the complete plea and any direct appeals to persons involved in the disappearance.

Behavioural Signs
Rate of illustrators – Any movement or gesture of the arms or hands to supplement speech
Face manipulations – Touching, scratching or covering the face
Blinks - When the eyelids close
Gaze aversion – The period of time in which the individual avoided eye contact with the interviewer, crowd or camera

Consequences of Emotional Arousal
Interpersonal Deception is a common occurrence in everyday interactions.

While people can be good liars they only detect lies at a level no better than chance, regardless of relevant professions (Vrij, Granhag & Porter, 2011).

“High-Stakes” deceivers must construct and tell a consistent story with many potential details. According to ten Brinke and Porter (2012) high-stakes deceivers do this through three different channels of communication;

Facial expressions
Body language

by Brian O' Sullivan & Colin Farrell
Expands on research which previously examined deception in highly controlled lab settings with little intrinsic motivation for deceit.

This study supports the use of multiple behavioural cues for detecting deception in high stakes circumstances, harnessing theories of emotional masking, cognitive loading, and psychological distancing to potentially detect the behavioural differences exhibited by serious offenders.

The authors claim that this study contributes to understanding of human behaviour in a wider spectrum.
Findings in Complete Pleas
Deceptive pleaders were more likely to indicate feelings of disgust through facial expressions, as well as being less likely to exhibit genuine sadness and distress.

Deceptive pleaders were more likely to use tentative language, indirectly acknowledging their lie and attempting to distance themselves from the lie of their plea.

Slower speech rate and increased hesitancy were not exhibited by deceptive pleaders.

Body language cues were not significantly different between the genuine and deceptive plea groups.
Findings in Direct Appeals
Researchers anticipated that the differences in pleader behaviour between groups would be at their greatest during the request for the safe return of the missing person.

This prediction was accurate, with all 4 of the stated hypotheses regarding the direct appeals found to be significant or partially significant.

Hypothesis 3 was partially supported, with significantly more tentative language used but no greater incidence of pronouns or positive/negative emotional words.

Regarding hypothesis 4, an additional trend emerged of deceptive pleaders blinking at a faster rate than genuine pleaders.
Consequences of Cognitive Load
Consequences of Attempted Behavioural Control
Consequences of Psychological Distancing
Determination of Ground Truth
Coding Reliability
A second researcher was asked to code for behavioural and emotional cues in 17 of the used videos (21.8%).

They established a strong inter-rater reliability for behavioural cues such as body language (rs = .87-.99) and also for the emotional cues (k = .67).

The human face is the primary way by which we express and interpret emotions.

Ten Brinke and Porter (2012) claimed that some facial muscles are beyond conscious control and therefore cannot be completely overridden or deliberately used during emotional deception.

This leads to the idea of “Micro Expressions” – These are full face expressions which last from 1/25th to 1/5th of a second and reveal one’s true emotion before it is masked.

Porter and ten Brinke (2008) claimed that these micro expressions were universal and displayed by everyone, but that they generally only appeared in half of the face.

They also stated that masking true emotions is associated with an increased blink rate.

Telling a lie requires more thought then telling the truth.

High-Stakes deceivers must continuously create a consistent story, alibi and avoid implementing themselves in their crime, leading to an increased cognitive load.

Vrij (2008) reported that liars do not take their credibility for granted and are therefore much more likely to monitor their facial expressions, speech and body language then truth tellers.

This increased cognitive load can lead to;
Slower speech, longer pauses and more hesitations
Less arm movements and hand gestures

This increased cognitive load may be partly attributed to the attempted control over behaviour.

Certain behavioural channels are unable to be consciously controlled e.g micro-expressions.
The liar may be unaware of how they would usually appear when telling the truth and therefore overcompensate.

Mann et al. (2011) claimed that individuals who attempt to not avert their eyes maintained eye contact for too long, or in an attempt to not fidget, their body language becomes overly rigid.

However, DePaulo et al. (2003) and Porter, Doucette, Earle and MacNeil (2008) both reported that outside of laboratory settings, real criminals skilled in interpersonal deception tended to use increased bodily movements, perhaps to confuse others.

Pennebaker, Francis and Booth (2001) conducted a study in order to investigate characteristically uncommon and deceptive word usage, brought about in an attempt to create a distance between the liar and the truth.

They reported that liars use less first person pronouns such as “I” and more negative emotional words and more tentative words such as “maybe” and “perhaps”.

This could potentially suggest an avoidance of accepting responsibility, commitment to the lie and hidden feelings of guilt.

The Current Study
In this study the behavioural consequences of high-stakes deceptions were investigated using videotapes of people pleading to the public for the return of a loved one.

Roughly half of the observed pleaders were ultimately convicted of murdering the loved one they were pleading for.

Liars were expected to fail in convincingly producing sadness and distress due to “leakage” of discordant emotions.
Liars were expected to have slower speech and use hesitations and fewer words.
Liars were expected to use fewer pronouns and emotional words, but more tentative and noncommittal words.
Liars were expected to blink more and have a higher rate of gaze aversion.
Significant evidence would be found to support the multi cue approach to deception detection (ten Brinke & Porter, 2010).

Internal Validity was ensured by providing a strict definition of “ground truth”.
To establish that an individual was being deceptive overwhelming evidence must have been provided in a legal court which lead to their conviction.

Evidence included blood and DNA of the victim, forensic evidence, possession of the murder weapon, camera footage, phone records, inadequate alibis, eyewitness testimonies and confessions.

For the remaining 43 individuals, someone else was convicted on the murder (n=34), the loved one was found alive (n=3), the loved one had committed suicide (n=4) or the missing loved one was ultimately found without any presence of foul play (n=2).

Emotional Signs
Presence of universal emotional expressions – Happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, surprise and contempt (Ekman et al., 1987).
The videos were split into 74,731 frames. Each frame was coded twice, once for the upper facial region and the second for the lower facial region, resulting in 149,462 codes.

Verbal Signs
Length of plea in words
Speech rate – Words per minute
Hesitations – Percentage of total speech
Pronouns – Percentage of total speech
Tentative words – Percentage of total speech
Positive emotional words
Negative emotional words
Multi Cue Approach to Deception Detection
Hypothesis 5 tested the model developed by ten Brinke & Porter (2010), which stated that a combination of theoretically based deception cues could account for differences in assessors' efficiency in discriminating deceptive killers from genuine pleaders.

The four significant cues from the direct appeals (upper face sadness, lower face happiness, speech characteristics, percentage of tentative words, blinking and gaze) were used as predictors and compared in unison and individually.

Hypothesis 5 was supported for all predictors except for lower face happiness.

A 90.4% success rate was exhibited by assessors using this model for predicting deception.
Implications of Study
The researchers state that the findings of this study could potentially aid missing persons investigations in which a family member or significant other is a suspect.

The model tested could potentially be used in training police detective and other legal professionals to discriminate between genuine and deceptive pleas made by family members/significant others.

On a more general level, the cues which were found to indicate deception illustrate potentially fallible aspects of impression management in individuals who are highly motivated to deviate from the truth.
Strengths of Introduction
Strengths of Method
Strengths of Results
Strengths of Discussion
Weaknesses of Introduction
Weaknesses of Method
Weaknesses of Results
Weaknesses of Discussion
Statistical tests used for analyses:
1. MANOVAs are a robust multivariate statistical analysis (Finch, 2005).
2. Binary Logistic Regression Analyses are appropriate for, and widely used in, social science research (Chao-Ying & Tak-Shing, 2002).

Descriptive statistics outlined clearly and in detail in the included table, saving room for more complex data analysis in the written section.

90.4% accuracy of assessors in predicting pleader deception, providing extremely strong support for hypothesis 5.
Covariates (such as personality factors, psychopathology and mental illness) could potentially have been used in analyses to reduce confounding of data.

Weakness of Hypothesis 5: Significance was found, however more than one study is needed to provide enough support for a theory (Francis, 2012).

In this study, the authors test their own theoretical model - this could potentially lack in objectivity.

However Hartwig and Bond (2011) also stated that explicit knowledge of behavioural cues indicating deception were less effective than the intuitive reactions of assessors - this contests the proposed multi-cue model of deception detection.

Klaver, Lee, Spidel and Hart (2009) found that deception detection can be particularly ineffective when dealing with offender samples.

The two authors of this paper are well qualified to cite their previous work extensively, as they are particularly influential in the area of deception detection.

ten Brinke - Has authored on 14 peer reviewed articles relating to the area of deception.
Porter - Has authored on 18 peer reviewed articles relating to the area of deception.

However Honts and Kircher (2011) cite the small number of researchers working in this area and the limited amount of literature available.

The researches employed an exploratory sequential mixed methods design, providing a greater level of data triangulation (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011).

Strong Internal Validity was established through the strict definition of ground truth.
External and Ecological Validity is weak due to the nature of the research. It is not very applicable in a real world setting.

In fact, Hart, Fillmore and Griffith (2009) call into question assessing deception through video observation, as people miss out on vital social information from face-to-face.

A second researcher was asked to code for behavioural and emotional cues in only 17 of the used videos (21.8%).
Significance was found to support the majority of the tested hypotheses, suggesting a sound methodology, rationale, and knowledge of the literature.

Hartwig and Bond (2011) conducted a meta-analysis of studies in deception detection, and found that behavioural differences between truth tellers and liars were the primary factor in conscious detection of deception.
However the numerous times they do cite themselves indicates a narrow spectrum of research available to back up the study.

Some very dated literature is referenced e.g. Darwin (1872).

Chao-Ying Joanne, P., & Tak-Shing Harry, S. (2002). Logistic Regression Analysis and Reporting: A Primer. Understanding Statistics, 1(1), 31.

Creswell, J.W., & Plano Clark, V.L. (2011).
Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research
. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

DePaulo, B., Lindsay, J. J., Malone, B. E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K., & Cooper, H. (2003). Cues to deception.
Psychological Bulletin, 129,
74–118. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.129.1.74

Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., O’Sullivan, M., Chan, A., Diacoyanni- Tarlatzis, I., Heider, K., . . . Tzavaras, A(1987). Universals and cultural differences in the judgment of facial expressions of emotion.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53,

Finch, H. (2005). Comparison of the Performance of Nonparametric and Parametric MANOVA Test Statistics when Assumptions Are Violated.
Methodology: European Journal Of Research Methods For The Behavioral And Social Sciences, 1
(1), 27-38. doi:10.1027/1614-1881.1.1.27

Francis, G. (2012). The Psychology of Replication and Replication in Psychology.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(6),

Hart, C. L., Fillmore, D. G. &Griffith, J. D. (2009). Indirect Detection of Deception: Looking For Change.
Current Research in Social Psychology, 14(9),

Hartwig, M., & Bond Jr., C. F. (2011). Why Do Lie-Catchers Fail? A Lens Model Meta-Analysis of Human Lie Judgments.
Psychological Bulletin, 137
(4), 643-659. doi:10.1037/a0023589

Honts, C. R., & Kircher, J. C. (2011). Research methods for psychophysiological deception detection. In B. Rosenfeld, S. D. Penrod (Eds.) ,
Research methods in forensic psychology
.Hoboken, NJ US: John Wiley & Sons Inc.


Klaver, J. R., Lee, Z., Spidel, A., & Hart, S. D. (2009). Psychopathy and deception detection using indirect measures.
Legal & Criminological Psychology, 14
(1), 171-182. doi:10.1348/135532508X289964

Livingstone Smith, D. (2004).
Why we lie: The evolutionary roots of deception and the unconscious mind.
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Mann, S., Vrij, A., Leal, S., Granhag, P. A., Warmelink, L., & Forrester, D. (2011).
Look into my eyes: Deliberate eye contact as a cue to deceit.
Manuscript submitted for publication.

Pennebaker, J. W., Francis, M. E., & Booth, R. J. (2001). Linguistic inquiry
and word count (LIWC): LIWC 2001. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Porter, S., & ten Brinke, L. (2010). The truth about lies: What works in
detecting high-stakes deception?
Legal and Criminological Psychology,
, 57–75. doi:10.1348/135532509X433151

Porter, S., Doucette, N., Earle, J., & MacNeil, B. (2008). “Half the world knows not how the other half lies”: Investigation of cues to deception exhibited by criminal offenders and non-offenders.
Legal and Criminological Psychology, 13,
27–38. doi:10.1348/135532507X186653

Ten Brinke, L. & Porter, S. (2012). Cry Me a River: Identifying the Behavioural Consequences of Extremely High-Stakes Interpersonal Deception.
Law and Human Behaviour, Vol 36 (6)
, 469- 477.

Vrij, A. (2008).
Detecting lies and deceit: Pitfalls and opportunities.
Chichester, England: Wiley.

Vrij, A., Granhag, P. A., & Porter, S. (2011). Pitfalls and opportunities in nonverbal and verbal lie detection.
Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 11
, 89 –121.
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