Making a Murderer: Body Language and Lies

my alCOM.y will be using our Making a Murderer blog page, to draw attention to nonverbal behaviours (mainly body language), displayed by participants on the Making a Murderer TV show. Our primary goal is to educate on nonverbal communication and to pique people's interest in this fascinating area that so many people are unaware of, or pay little attention to. 

my alCOM.y recognises that the TV show was very much on the side of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, and that the way in which the case was portrayed, could have left out many other bits of important information, evidence and footage. As specialists in body language, we were able to see nonverbal cues that raise red flags, and could potentially point towards deception. These were displayed in astonishing amounts from the side of the prosecution or from members of the murder victim's family, and not from the defence. Based on the nonverbal behaviour that we saw in participants on the TV show, we believe that Steven and Brendan were stitched up. We hope that by highlighting some of these anomalies, we will be able to play a small part in proving that Steven and Brendan were unfairly convicted. 

We saw nonverbal cues with specific meaning, that clearly discredited the words being spoken. We would like to share with you some of these cues, and their meanings. Bearing in mind that in a thirty minute conversation, two people can send over eight hundred nonverbal signals, we could not begin to share all of them. Therefore we are selecting those that we find the most interesting, or significant. 

Before I start this blog, I need to give you an overview of Deception Detection...

For years, researchers have been searching for the ‘Pinocchio’s nose’ of deception. As of today, it doesn’t exist; there is no single cue indicative of deception. There is no machine, technology nor person that can detect deception with 100% accuracy. Any claims that suggest otherwise are, in themselves, untrue. 

Most people’s ability to detect deception is 54% accuracy, that's little more than a toss of a coin. So unless you’ve been trained properly, your accuracy, most likely, will be around this mark. Research also shows, that as soon as we start to dabble in the area, following inaccurate knowledge or beliefs, our ability to detect deception lowers even further. That’s a significantly high number, which could potentially result in innocent people being accused. That's ironic, given the topic of this blog!

There are many nonverbal cues, that can increase when people are not telling the truth; nose touching, increased blink rate, self soothing, fidgeting, to name a few. However, these are not ‘lying cues’ in their own right, because we also do these when we are telling the truth. Generally, behaviours like these increase with, and indicate, stress. 

They are associated with lying because lying increases cognitive load significantly, therefore causing stress. Our brain doesn't like it when we lie, and our body reacts with behaviours and responses that can be both voluntary or involuntary. Most people under questioning will be stressed.

Where most people go wrong, is assuming deception as soon as they see nonverbal cues that they believe to be indicative of lying, such as those mentioned above. Perhaps the biggest myths I hear when talking to people about body language, are that you can tell someone is lying based on their eye direction or amount of eye contact. These are not true!

Just because we are teaching you about body language, we don't want you to believe you are trained and to start dabbling in lie detection with the people in your lives. Even if you've learned a little about body language, through this blog or otherwise, it doesn't necessarily increase your accuracy in deception detection; it can in fact lower it, when used in the wrong way.

In deception detection, the best that we can do is identify anomalies and patterns in behaviour, physiology and voice, differentiated from baseline and emotional baseline behaviours. We then use these as potential red flags which may, or may not, be indicative of deception. How these red flags are addressed through questioning, is key to seeking the truth. my alCOM.y have not completed a full audit, or questioned any of the participants, because we are working from, and limited to, the content from the TV show. We therefore, have not uncovered the truth and are not accusing anyone of lying. We are simply pointing out interesting nonverbal cues, that raise red flags and could point towards deception. Further investigation and gathering of evidence would be crucial in getting to the truth.

If you have specific video footage that isn't part of the show, and you'd like us to take a look, please get in touch.





Sophie ZadehComment