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Lying Eyes: Why Liars Seek Deliberate Eye Contact

Samantha Mann, Sarah Ewens, Dominic Shaw, Aldert Vrij, Sharon Leal & Jackie Hillman
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law
Volume 20, Issue 3, 2013, pages 452-461.

Abstract

Mann et al. (Mann, S., Vrij, A., Leal, S., Granhag, P. A., Warmelink, L., & Forrester, D. [2012]. Windows to the soul? Deliberate eye contact as a cue to deceit. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 36, 205–251; Mann, S., Vrij, A., Shaw, D., Leal, S., Ewans, S., Hillman, J., Granhag, P. A., & Fisher, R. P. [2012]. Two heads are better than one? How to effectively use two interviewers to elicit cues to deception. Legal and Criminological Psychology. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8333.2012.02055.x) found that liars display more deliberate eye contact than truth-tellers but did not examine the reasons why they do this. We hypothesized that liars seek more eye contact because they want to convince the interviewer that they are telling the truth and want to check whether the interviewer appears to believe them. In the present experiment, truth-tellers (N = 76) prepared room A for a seminar. Liars (N = 81) ‘illegally’ copied encrypted information in room B and were instructed to use as an alibi that they were preparing room A for a seminar. Liars displayed more deliberate eye contact than truth-tellers. In addition, liars were more inclined than truth-tellers to report that they had displayed deliberate eye contact to convince the interviewer and to check whether the interviewer believed them. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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