Detect Liars By Making Them Draw

Fabricating a story is easy when you only need to tell a few, select details. When you have to draw it out on paper, however, it becomes very easy to tell the liars from the truth tellers. Here's how.

Psychology Today reports that liars tend to struggle in a number of very similar ways when they're forced to visualise — rather than verbalise — their lies. Researchers hypothesised that liars would draw a situation a bit different from truth tellers. The details would be less significant, for starters, but they also assumed liars would sketch from an overhead view whereas truth tellers would sketch from a "shoulder camera" view since they were essentially replicating something they saw. While the results weren't exactly as hypothesised, the researchers found drawing to be exceptionally accurate in discovering a liar:

No significant differences in level of detail were found between verbal and drawn statements, but the plausibility of truthful drawings was somewhat higher than deceptive drawings. A similar difference in plausibility was not evident between truthful and deceptive verbal statements.

More interestingly, significantly more truth tellers included the "agent" (other person in the situation) in their drawings than did liars (80% vs. 13%). In addition, significantly more truth tellers drew from a shoulder-camera view than liars, who by in large drew from an overhead view (53% vs. 19%). In verbal statements, more truth tellers also mentioned the agent than liars (53% vs. 19%).

Using the "sketching the agent" result alone, it was possible to identify 80% of the truth tellers and 87% of the liars—results superior to most traditional interview techniques.

Next time you think you've caught someone in a lie, don't ask them to tell you about it — just have them draw it instead.

If You Want to Catch a Liar, Make Him Draw [Psychology Today]


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