Tag Archives: richard-wiseman

Reliable Lie Detection Cues

We mis­takenly attrib­ute fid­get­ing, stut­ter­ing and avoid­ance of eye con­tact as out­ward sig­nals of men­dacity, sug­gests recent research into lie detec­tion, show­ing that these are some of the least accur­ate ways to pre­dict wheth­er or not someone is lying.

Instead, the most reli­able way to tell if someone is lying is by listen­ing care­fully:

Pro­fess­or Richard Wise­man […] says that com­mon sense is the lie-buster­’s best weapon, and affirms that it is aur­al rather than visu­al clues that are key.

Wise­man’s 1994 exper­i­ment […] had 30,000 par­ti­cipants watch­ing or listen­ing to two inter­views he con­duc­ted with Robin Day. In one, Day told the truth; in the oth­er he lied. View­ers could not spot the lie: there was a near-50/50 vote. Radio listen­ers, how­ever, achieved over 70 per cent accur­acy.

“Lying taxes the mind,” Wise­man explains. “It involves think­ing about what is plaus­ible. People tend to repeat phrases, give short­er answers, and hes­it­ate more. They will try to dis­tance them­selves from the lie, so use far more imper­son­al lan­guage. Liars often reduce the num­ber of times that they say words like ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’. To detect decep­tion, look for aur­al signs asso­ci­ated with hav­ing to think hard.”

Accord­ing to the Cana­dian Journ­al of Police and Secur­ity Ser­vices, anoth­er side-effect of lying that forensic inter­rog­at­ors will look for is the avoid­ance of verbal con­trac­tions – using “I am” instead of “I’m” and so on.

Evidence-Based Methods to Become Lucky

In an attempt to dis­cov­er wheth­er there were genu­ine per­son­al­ity traits that sep­ar­ate the lucky from the unlucky, Richard Wise­man stud­ied 400 people over a num­ber of years and dis­covered that there are indeed beha­vi­our­al dif­fer­ences between the lucky and luck­less—and that we can ‘learn’ these traits to improve our luck.

Wise­man states that the lucky “gen­er­ate good for­tune via four basic prin­ciples”:

  • Cre­at­ing and noti­cing chance oppor­tun­it­ies.
  • Mak­ing lucky decisions by listen­ing to their intu­ition.
  • Cre­at­ing self-ful­filling proph­es­ies via pos­it­ive expect­a­tions.
  • Adopt­ing a resi­li­ent atti­tude that trans­forms bad luck into good.

And by real­ising this and fol­low­ing three simple tech­niques, you can improve your luck:

  1. Fol­low your intu­ition and respect hunches in decision mak­ing.
  2. Intro­duce vari­ety into your life.
  3. See the pos­it­ive side of mis­for­tune: ima­gine how things could be worse.

Of the people that fol­lowed this advice, 80% iden­ti­fied improve­ments to their luck and over­all hap­pi­ness.

Goal Setting and Affluence

You’ve heard of the Yale Goal-Set­ting Study, right? The one that goes like this:

In 1953 a team of research­ers inter­viewed Yale’s gradu­at­ing seni­ors, ask­ing them wheth­er they had writ­ten down the spe­cif­ic goals that they wanted to achieve in life. Twenty years later the research­ers tracked down the same cohort and found that the 3% of people who had spe­cif­ic goals all those years before had accu­mu­lated more per­son­al wealth than the oth­er 97% of their class­mates com­bined. The study is used to illus­trate the power of focus.

Prof. Richard Wise­man, Uni­ver­sity of Hert­ford­shire psy­cho­lo­gist and self-help myth-buster extraordinaire, says it best:

There is just one small problem… the exper­i­ment nev­er actu­ally took place.

A 2007 art­icle in Fast Com­pany cor­rob­or­ates the stance, in a slightly more elo­quent (or should that be verb­ose?) man­ner:

Accord­ing to [Silas] Spen­gler [sec­ret­ary of the Class of 1953 since gradu­ation] – who lis­ted his future occu­pa­tion in the Yale year­book as “per­son­nel admin­is­tra­tion fol­low­ing a course of busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion at Har­vard,” and who instead went into the navy and then to law school – he nev­er wrote down any per­son­al goals, nor did he and his class­mates ever par­ti­cip­ate in a research study on per­son­al goals.

As fur­ther evid­ence, Spen­gler provided excerpts from the 1953 year­book. No one stated per­son­al goals, but most of the gradu­ates pre­dicted their future lines of work: Roberto Goizueta, Coke’s CEO, pre­dicted his future would be with Cuba’s Com­pani Indus­tri­al del Tropico S.A.; Wil­li­am Don­ald­son and Dan Lufkin, founders of Wall Street’s Don­ald­son, Lufkin & Jen­rette, fore­cast futures in law. For­rest Mars, Jr., now chair­man and CEO of Mars, Inc., lis­ted “no” for employ­ment pos­sib­il­it­ies.

Superstition and Irrationality

I’d like to class myself as a fairly ration­al being, but we all have our transgressions, right? So are we all maybe a bit super­sti­tious?

To answer this, Richard Wise­man offers this com­mon thought exper­i­ment from Bruce Hood’s new book, Super­sense:

Ima­gine that you only have two objects in your house:
1) A £10 watch that was giv­en to you by your part­ner and there­fore has sen­ti­ment­al value.
2) Anoth­er watch that’s worth £1000 but has no sen­ti­ment­al value.

Your house catches fire, and you only have time to save one watch. […] Which watch you would save?

If you think that the £10 is some­how imbued with the essence of your part­ner then you are being super­sti­tious. Of course, you might argue that it simply reminds you of the good times the two of you have had togeth­er. Fair enough, but how would you feel if I replaced it with a watch that was abso­lutely identic­al (same scratches, mark­ings, etc)? This replace­ment watch would have exactly the same memory-indu­cing prop­er­ties, but most people reject the idea, say­ing they want THEIR watch. Again, this is irra­tion­al.

Of course, this assumes that sen­ti­ment­al­ity (while irra­tion­al) == super­sti­tion.

It does how­ever remind me of a more inter­est­ing thought exper­i­ment about our irra­tion­al­ity when it comes to sav­ing money when pur­chas­ing items of dif­fer­ent prices (e.g. we’ll travel a sig­ni­fic­ant dis­tance to save £20 on a £40 coat, but not to save £20 on a £12,000 car).

The former via @sandygautam