Psychology presentation focuses on detecting deception

On Oct. 5, the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences (FCAS) and NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies (CPS) will host the next Psychology Graduate Research Series on “Can People Detect Deception via Thin–Slice Communications?”

Matt Young, CPS graduate student, will present the research from noon to 1 p.m. in the Maltz Psychology Building, room 2045.

Young will present their progress, define deception detection and thin–slices and explain why his team thought both subjects were worth studying. “It’s interesting to see if you are able to tell if someone can detect lying in a split second,” said Young.

The research study, initiated by Weylin Sternglanz, Ph.D., associate professor in the FCAS, combines deception detection research and thin–slice research.

Sternglanz said deception de-tection research shows that people are either very bad at detecting lies, or that some people are very good liars. This means that people are only right about 54% of the time at detecting when someone is lying. However, research on thin–slices shows that people can make remarkable inferences about strangers based on a very tiny, or thin–slice, of behavior said Sternglanz.

“People can make pretty accurate judgments about a person from a 5–second video clip, and those judgments correlate strongly with judgments by people who’ve known that person for a long time,” said Sternglanz. “I wanted to marry these two areas of research because if we’re so bad at detecting lies but so good at making inferences from thin–slices, what would happen if people tried to detect lies from very thin–slices of behavior?”

Though the research study is in progress, the conclusions will add to the research already completed about deception detection and thin–slices.

“The conclusions will be interesting either way — if we find out that people are actually able to detect deception through thin–slices or if they’re not. Thin–slice literature generally shows that people are good at inferences through thin slices, and if we show that when it comes to deception that people are quite poor and that they need more information, then that will be interesting as well,” said Sternglanz.

Young said, “I think if we can scratch the surface of research about gut feelings, thin–slices and first impressions, it can be really useful to a lot of people in different professions, like the police and psychologists. It will also be useful for daily interactions because it can make communication more open if you’re aware of cues in yourself about lying and you can be more honest with yourself.”

Sternglanz said psychology is a subject that everyone wonders about and a subject that should be studied scientifically.  The talk is an opportunity for everyone to find out what the research shows about their intuition, he said.

“Can People Detect Deception via Thin–Slice Communications?” is just one in a series of talks presented each month by CPS and Farquhar.

Jamie Tartar, Ph.D., associate professor in the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences, said, “This graduate talk series offers an exciting opportunity for the students and faculty to learn about the different ongoing research projects. It is also a good way to open up collaboration between centers.”

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