Differentaspects of questions about untruth/deception have become a popular topic andobject of study in psychological area across a long period of time, involvingtopics such as, the types of deception, the way to detect deception and themotivations of deception. In our daily life, it also occurs in a high frequency.
For example, when teacher asks you why you are late for class, when father asksyou why you stay out late, when giving comments on somebody else, or when yourfriends tell you about his/her amazing experience. Among a large amount ofquestions around untruth, lots of researchers showed their interests on thebehaviours/cues of deception. As some uncomfortable feelings would be appeared whenpeople are lying, the behaviours would be slight different from normal people (Hartwigand Bond, 2011). The first systematic research about the cues of deception wascarried out by Zuckerman, Depaulo, and Rosenthal(1981). The study examined thecues of deception in both verbal and nonverbal forms. This research is quitecomprehensive as they covered 36 independent samples. After this, a great dealof studies appeared, relating to the cues of deception. In one of the typical studies(Vrij & Semin, 1996), the result showed deception would associated with reducingeye contact (averting gaze), pausing, moving legs, etc.
And in another studyconducted by Akehurst, Köehnken,Vrij, and Bull (1996), the results showedthe similar results about the behaviours of deception. But in terms of eye contact,unfortunately, there are biased perspectives among different researches. Forexample, Ekman(1985) demonstrated that liars are more likely to look away becauseof some kind of shame or the increase of the cognitive load (Sporer &Schwandt, 2006). Schweitzer, Brodt and Croson (2002) stood on an oppositeground, indicating eye contact in liars would be more than normal peoplebecause of the desire of being accepted. Additionally, the difference cultureson eye contact should be considered into the studies, namely that culturalvariation could lead into different manner in social interactions (Hornik, 1987).Statistically, a weak significant correlation of r=.27 between avoiding eyecontact and veracity was found by Hartwig and Bond (2011), which is much lowerthan some other factors with veracity.
Oppositely, Buller and Aune (1987) havefound that a significant correlation between the two variables. Besides, some nulleffects have also been discovered (Vrij, 2004). Apart from these points, Mann,Vrij and Bull (2004) figured out averting gaze appears not only as a sign oflying, it can be the sign of feeling ashamed, guilty, inferiority.
As statedabove, there are still polarised opinions in this controversial area,particular in terms of eye contact. Also, some investigations have been carriedout through populations. A representative group of people, police officers,gave their opinions that 75% of them agreed averting gaze is the typical cuesof deception/lying (Mann, Vrij & Bull, 2004). The data took up more thanhalf of the total data.
Additionally, another project conducted by also showsthe high frequency in believing of eye contact (Fugita, Wexley & Hillery,1974). Thus, there are lots of different aspects of viewpoints presented interms of statistic, experiment and interview. The claim is still controversial.More researches should continue to be conducted in order to get a more accurateresult. There must be a lot of places to improve.
The following paragraphs willstate my plan for examining the claim, based on previous researches and across2 different levels of analysis (interpersonal and positional levels). Method 1Regarding to thefirst plan of my experiment, I am going to look for my participants in auniversity. There are two reasons for choosing university as the experimentalplace, that it is convenient to recruit participants or volunteers and lots ofpeople from different cultures can be found in order to investigate the claimacross international cultures. The experiment will be set as participantobservation in which participants should follow the rule and the nature of thestudy.
The independent variable is lying or telling the truth and the dependentvariable is eye contact or not. Generally, participants will be allocated intotwo conditions: ‘lie’ condition and ‘truth’ condition. The people in the ‘lie’group will be asked to state a lie about what they have been asked to dobefore.
Oppositely, the people in the ‘truth’ group will be asked to keephonest on what they have been asked to do before. The scenario will be state inthe following ‘procedure’ section. Additionally, their behaviours will bevideotaped and will not be kept until getting participants’ permissions. Participant Approximately 24 peopleare needed to carry out the experiment involving 16 students and 8 teachers.
Itwill be better if people from different countries/cultures can be involved. Theywill be divided into three groups: ‘student-to-student’ group, ‘student-to-teacher’group and ‘teacher-to-student’ group. There will be four teams in each groupthat every team is consists of two people. Except ‘student-to-student’ group,the teams in the other two groups should be made up by one student and oneteacher. So there will be totally 12 teams in 3 groups. The participants willbe told that this is an experiment about testing a psychological theory insteadof telling them the details. Half of teams in each three groups will beallocated into ‘lie’ condition and the other half will be in ‘truth’ condition.Inclusion criteria required that participants have no any cognitive problemsand are willing to take part in the study by showing an oral statement.
Besides, each of participants will be given a debriefing explaining the actualexperimental purpose, and a gift after finishing the experiment. Procedure Participants will be experimentedin two as a team. One is asker and the other is answerer (In the ‘student-to-teacher’group, the asker will be teacher and the answerer will be student. Vice versa).Firstly, two people in one team will be instructed into a specified room.
Theasker then will be asked to put personal effects in another specified officeand back to the room. The answerer in the same team then will be instructed tothe office to take the stuff and hide it, then back to the room. The asker willask ‘where are you and what did you do?’ .
Participants in the ‘lie’ conditionwill be asked to state a lie about it and the participants in the ‘truth’condition would be asked to state the truth. The same experimental setting asstated above will be duplicated by each team in each group. Meanwhile, theiractions will be recorded for the later observation. Explanation andanalysis The settings of the 3independent groups are included so that I could take a deeper look into theclaim across interpersonal and positional level. More specifically, the ‘student-to-student’group refers to interpersonal level and the other two groups refer topositional level. The difference between actions when teacher makes a lie tostudent and when student makes a lie should be subsequently observed. Besides,the answerer are asked to hide the asker’s stuff may involves in a shame whichmay lead to an intense emotion.
According to DePaulo and Rosenthal (2001), the intenseemotions associate with additional cognitive load that decrease people’s behaviouralcontrol. Namely, participants are more likely to reveal their psychologicalstates, and it is easier for researchers to observe. The disadvantage of thissetting, however, reduces the validity of the experiment. The reason is eyecontact may also be reduced by intense emotion (Vrij & Mann, 2001). Additionally,another disadvantage of the design is that participants are asked to lie forthe setting of the experiment.
There is much of chance to exhibit the truepurpose of the experiment. Demand characteristic which means participant maychange the natural reaction to reach the interpretation would be appeared, itwould be either self-aware or not (Weber and Cook, 1972). Although the rewardmay reduce the effect as an motivation, they cannot provide the full naturalreaction on the issue once they discover the purpose of experiment. Method 2A field research done by Samantha,Aldert and Ray (2002) gave me the idea of the second experiment although thepurpose of their experiment was slightly different from mine. They observed thebehaviour of deception in an authentic situation by reviewing the video ofpolice interviews of some suspects. This condition keeps nature of experimentto a very large extent. In my second planning experiment, it involves innon-participant observation which participants has no relationship with researchers.
This type of observation refers to high ecological validity that makes thestudy more natural (Wolman, 1964). This experiment is designed toinvestigate the eye contact when the liars weave their own deception. Participant Subject will need some children who studybetween first and third year in elementary school (age from 5 to 8), and theirguardians. The guardians need to play the part of supporting actors; theleading role would be the children, that their actions will be observed.
Beforerunning the experiment, consent should be given to each guardian. The test willnot be ran until the consent is obtained. Besides, an assistant is needed totake care of children and cooperate with researcher during the experiment. Procedure The experiment could beplaced in any room but with some ‘tempting’ cakes and candies. The task forguardians is to give the word to their children: ‘do not think of the snack onthe table’. And then, guardians will be asked to leave the place. Children andthe assistant will remain. After a period of time, the assistant will be askedto induce children to eat the snack by giving support in oral communication or behaviour.
Then the behaviours of children will be recorded by a videotape. After about 10minutes, guardians will be asked to come back and ask their children: ‘did usteal snack from table?’. The reactions of those who actually steal snack willbe recorded.
The recording will focus on those who eatthe sweets and lie to their guardians. Their behaviours will be observed thatif they show the actions of avoiding eye contact when they are lying. Compareto the first experiment, the psychological states might be more complex becauseof the consideration of the possible consequence which is pointed out by Hartwigand Bond (2011) .This design, however, makes the experiment in a more real-lifesituation in which subjects are uneasy to discover the purpose of experiment, itis important to pay attentions on a number of limitations. For example, thisexperiment can only applied to young children considering the validity of thedesign. Adults are unlikely to receive the temptation of snacks.
If biggertemptation is applied to adults to test the claim such as money, this might beinvolves in unethical actions. So as a result, it may not be generalized thefindings into wider population. The second thing that needs to be considered isthe experiment should have a large pool of participants in order to gettingenough data or result. The reason is the numbers of children who both eatsnacks and lie to their guardians cannot be predicted. The children who didn’treach these two criteria will be excluded from the results. Namely, theutilization of the measured data should be improved.
In turn, there will be nosufficient data to draw the conclusion. In the experiment, the interactionbetween children and their guardians refers to the positional level of explanation.The interpersonal level of explanation can be included by changing theguardians into children’s peers. ConclusionThe first methods attempt to collect thedata from a participant observation, which may lead the decrease of ecologicalvalidity. The method however could be generalised to population.
Additionally,there is no need of big sample of participants. The second one attempts to examinethe claim by using non-participant observation in which follow the nature ofexperiment. But it would be time-consuming and a number of participants areneeded. A more balanced and structured experiment is expected. More limitationson other affecting factors should be considered such as shame, guilt.