Lying and Leaking; Detecting Deceit via Nonverbal Communication

by Christine Slayton
Communication Studies
Faculty advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Lamoureux

“People would lie less if they thought there was any such certain sign of lying, but there isn’t. There is no sign of deceit itself—no gesture, facial expression, or muscle twitch that in and of itself means that a person is lying. There are only clues that the person is poorly prepared and clues of emotions that don’t fit the person’s line,” (Ekman, 1985, p. 80).

This research will take a close look at relational deception by examining the strategy, costs and benefits, and nonverbal communication of the process. Buller and Burgoon’s Interpersonal Deception Theory (IDT) will help explain the strategy behind deception. Thibaut and Kelley’s social exchange theory will assist in understanding the costs and benefits of deceiving others, especially successfully deceiving others. Lastly, Burgoon’s Expectancy Violations Theory (EVT) will provide insight regarding the expectancy for truth and the role of reward valence when deceiving. Psychologist Ekman’s research surrounding facial expressions, deception leakage, and detecting deceit will further explain how deception is more easily caught through vocalics and body, rather than through words.