Detecting Lies Using Demeanor, Bias, and Context

23 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2008 Last revised: 30 Sep 2008

Max Minzner

University of New Mexico School of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2008

Abstract

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.

Keywords: testimony, credibility, lies, juries, witnesses

Suggested Citation

Minzner, Max, Detecting Lies Using Demeanor, Bias, and Context (February 1, 2008). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 218; Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 29, p. 2557, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1089857

Max Minzner (Contact Author)

University of New Mexico School of Law ( email )

1117 Stanford, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

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