Detecting Lies Using Demeanor, Bias, and Context
University of New Mexico School of Law
February 1, 2008
Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 218
Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 29, p. 2557, 2008
Lie detection plays a key role in resolving criminal cases. Courts express a strong belief that juries can detect lies by analyzing witness demeanor. In contrast, legal academics, based on several decades of social science research, generally reject this consensus and assert that lie detection accuracy is little better than a coin flip. Recent developments in the deception detection literature suggest that this view is incomplete. In fact, lie detection accuracy is likely to be heterogeneous and to vary widely based on two factors. First, when the decision-makers' biases match reality, deception detection accuracy is likely to be quite good. Second, when the decision-maker has substantial context for the statements being evaluated, accuracy is also likely to be high. I consider the implications of this research for two vital areas of criminal law: statements by defendants/suspects and statements by cooperating witnesses.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: testimony, credibility, lies, juries, witnesses
Date posted: February 6, 2008 ; Last revised: September 30, 2008
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