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Detecting Deception

Pre-conception: An Interrogation Assassin.

by Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

There can be many ways and reasons an interrogation can fail. Among the many possible scenarios, we can fail to get a confession, we may get a false confession, or the subject just may plain flat refuse to talk or cooperate in any form.  One of the most deadly enemies of a successful interview or interrogation is the ‘pre-conception assassin.’  Let’s look at three tactics the ‘pre- conception assassin’ can use to kill your interview or interrogation.


One tactic employed by the pre-conception assassin is to convince the interviewer that the subject will be totally credible and has absolutely no intention of being misleading or deceptive.  This is an easy kill.  The assassin gets the interviewer to just simply ignore any and all signs of possible stress response to any questions and ultimately any lie signs.  If you can’t see the signs then any negative perceptions about the person’s honesty just simply go away.  Just cover your brain with the magic sheet and the scary deception monster goes away because if you can’t see it, it just doesn’t exist.


The second tactic our assassin employs is to turn the interviewer into a raving paranoid.  This requires the interviewer to assume the mind set that everyone is guilty of something, he just hasn’t figured out yet of what crime. Now the interviewer has to identify symptoms of evasion and deception that don’t exist but every movement and every answer has some hidden nefarious meaning. The interviewer is convinced the subject has got to be lying he just has to get the subject to believe the same thing and confess.


Finally, our pre-conception assassin has to  the interviewer’s control question formulation and presentation.  The interviewer should never ask a question whose answer may contradict his preconceived beliefs.  Ignorance will truly be bliss.  Only ask those questions that further support your conclusions and don’t give up until you get the answer you want.  Truth is not really your objective in either case – just get a confession or exonerate the subject at any and all costs. These are the interviewers who proclaim they have a 100% percent confession rate or a 100% cleared case rate.


Look at your mind set before you enter the interview room.  Are you an accomplice to the ‘pre-conception assassin?’ Is your ultimate objective for any interview and interrogation finding the truth no matter how disturbing, disappointing, or unpopular that may be?  When we stop searching for the truth, we’ve stopped serving justice.

Constant: What is it really? Why the Interrogator Should Care

by Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

Lately I’ve noticed that interviewers may be misdiagnosing their subjects because of the way they are identifying their subject’s “constant” or baseline of behavior.  Every successful kinesic interviewer knows that they will never be able to accurately identify issues that create significant stress for their subjects nor will they be able to isolate deceptive responses without accurately diagnosing the changes caused by deception if they haven’t established the subject’s baseline.  There is good news and bad news about establishing your subject’s “constant” of behavior.

Not intending to be a pessimist, I’d like to start with the bad news. A person’s overall behavior at any time is in reality composed of at least three factors.  Foremost is their dominant personality.  Just being flamboyant, aggressive, passive, egotistical or the demonstration of other such qualities is not the constant. It’s their well entrenched personality.   The second element is their life’s historical perspective – the prism through which the view the world around them. In some cases those major events have caused emotional or even mental disorders.  These behaviors initiated through triggering events and causes fixed action responses from you subject.  More about those elements in future article.  These are not the behaviors which I need to include in my “constant” assessment and can lead to misinterpretation of credibility.

The third element is your subject’s communication style.  Are they generally verbal or quiet?  How would you define the voice quality in terms of rate, pitch and volume? Do they have a lot of facial expression or do they have minimal amount of facial responses. Are their hand, arm and leg behaviors subdued or would you describe them as being quite gesticulative?  This is the good news.  You don’t have to conduct an in-depth analysis. Just consciously make these observations and make a mental note. When you address critical issues do you spot the significant change from that baseline?  If you are going to get signs of deception, they will typically be consistently located within these changes.

You don’t need to diagnose your subject’s baseline in depth but a quick calibration of your observations to the subject’s current “zero” level.  Over analysis can cause misdiagnosis and stress and deception paralysis.