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Catching liars: training mental health and legal professionals to detect high-stakes lies

Julia Shaw, Stephen Porter & Leanne ten Brinke

Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology

Volume 24, Issue 2, 2013



Although the ability to detect deception is critical in many professional contexts, most observers (including professional lie-catchers) are able to identify deceivers at the level of chance only. Further, almost all studies of deception detection have used low-stakes deception scenarios in determining deceptive behavior and training effectiveness. We evaluated the effectiveness of a comprehensive, empirically based full-day training workshop in improving the ability of 42 legal and mental health professionals to detect extremely high-stakes emotional lies. Their ability to discriminate sincere and insincere pleaders was measured at baseline and post-training. Overall, accuracy increased significantly from M = 46.4 to 80.9%. We cautiously suggest that training professionals to apply empirically validated methods to deception detection can increase their ability to correctly discriminate between liars and truth-tellers. Strategies to facilitate the detection of deception via the development of training programs are discussed.



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