Policemen’s and Civilians’ Beliefs About Facial Cues of Deception

Abstract

The most commonly discussed nonverbal indicators in scientific literature about subjective cues to deception are gaze aversion, smiling, self-adaptors, illustrators, body movements, etc. One of the methods for studying beliefs is the closed question method (CQM). The CQM studies beliefs through written questionnaires in which facial cues are described with words. In the present study, the CQM was adapted to the study of facial expressions by using a photographic questionnaire. Indeed, instead of written descriptions in a questionnaire, we used photos of facial expressions to improve the classification of facial cues with contrastive participants (police officers and civilians). Fifty-four standardized photos of facial movements based on the facial action coding system were used as stimuli. The task was to determine whether a particular expression was more or less present during a lie. Results highlight cues perceived as more present (e.g., lip wiping) or less present (e.g., fear) during a lie. Only a few differences emerged between civilians and police officers (e.g., head lowering) suggesting that they had similar beliefs. The accuracy of police officers’ beliefs was better than chance, but remains low for such a professional. Results revealed many new beliefs about deception which can be of help in updating police training on this topic in order to decrease the number of false alarms about lies.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The word undifferentiated indicates that a cue includes several variations of the cue. For instance, the gaze can be directed down, up, to the right, or to the left.

  2. 2.

    Except Duchenne smile (genuine smile) which had a larger effect size (d = − 0.70). However, this value was based on a small number of studies (Cohen 1988; DePaulo et al. 2003).

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Chloé Pugnetti, Vincent Denault, and Frédéric Tomas for their help and their comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Moreover, we would like to thank Commissioner Philippe Guichard (OCRVP), Commissioner Emmanuelle Oster (SRPT), Commissioner Bastien Barnabé (CSI) and Jean-Louis Calmon (GSO) for their support and their permissions to conduct the study in their services. Finally, we thank the police officers and the civilians who took part in the study.

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Correspondence to Samuel Demarchi.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were done so in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 3 and 4 and Fig. 1.

Table 3 Beliefs about facial cues of deception (policement and civilians)
Table 4 Comparison of police officers and civilians beliefs about facial cues of deception
Fig. 1
figure1

Illustration of facial cues studied

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Delmas, H., Elissalde, B., Rochat, N. et al. Policemen’s and Civilians’ Beliefs About Facial Cues of Deception. J Nonverbal Behav 43, 59–90 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-018-0285-4

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Keywords

  • Facial expressions
  • Lie detection
  • Belief
  • Police officers