Psychological Sleuths

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Psychological Sleuths

Postby ryguy » Fri Nov 09, 2007 3:25 am

The following should serve as an aid in detecting deception.

http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/fraud.html

Psychological sleuths
How to be a successful fraud

Print version: page 72

Scientists' considerable work on detecting interpersonal deception includes both content-analytic approaches (what information is being communicated) and behavior-analytic approaches (how the information is being communicated) and usually focuses on detecting lies, as opposed to detecting omissions or obfuscation.

However, despite this significant scientific work on detecting deception, there is surprisingly little on actually conducting it, note experts in the field. Questions that remain largely unasked by scientists include: What are the most effective methods for deceiving? What are the key personal and environmental variables for success or failure? What factors shorten, prolong or amplify the effect of deception?

Such questions could all be investigated empirically, yet this hasn't happened either among scientists or those in professions or vocations where deception features prominently, says Scott Gerwehr, a doctoral student in psychology and policy analyst for the RAND Corp. For example, he notes that agents in undercover police and intelligence work lack written doctrine on how to deceive and rarely subject any existing doctrine to rigorous scientific inquiry.

To help remedy this situation, APA in June coordinated a meeting of internationally recognized experts on deception at Marymount University in Arlington, Va. Attendees examined a range of deception-related issues to:

* Identify gaps or untested hypotheses regarding the practice of deception in the scientific literature and professional knowledge base.

* Formulate a "road map" of scientific experimentation to address shortcomings, inaccuracies and gaps in existing doctrine.

Among the topics discussed was the potential to glean--from the scientific literature of deception-detection studies--hypotheses reversing those studies' findings. For example, notes Gerwehr, who conceptualized and attended the meeting, if appearing tense and giving a negative impression can be cues to deception, then scientists may hypothesize that a means to achieving deception is appearing relaxed and likeable.

Moreover, says Gerwehr, from interviews with those who professionally practice deception, scientists may discover principles of effective interpersonal deception that generalize across a range of fields, such as acting, smuggling, unscrupulous sales or con artistry.

Mining both the scientific literature and the expertise of practitioners could, adds Gerwehr, ultimately help in the training of intelligence and other law-enforcement officers doing legitimate undercover work.

--G. MUMFORD

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Geoffrey Mumford, PhD, is APA director of science policy.
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"Only a fool of a scientist would dismiss the evidence and reports in front of him and substitute his own beliefs in their place." - Paul Kurtz

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Postby ryguy » Fri Nov 09, 2007 5:07 am

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20031023-000012.html

Understanding Compulsive Liars

Both Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair, journalists at prestigious publications, fabricated their stories. Their lying was more than laziness. This type of lying may fill a need to be someone else due to a low self-esteem.

In Shattered Glass, Chloë Sevigny plays another patsy -- but this time her betrayer is a prevaricating journalist. Caitlin Avey, Sevigny's character, is a Washington, D.C., magazine writer who is tricked by friend and fellow scribe Stephen Glass. The movie is based on the story of real-life fraud Stephen Glass, who was a hot young property on the 1990s magazine scene until his editors at The New Republic realized in 1998 that many of his stories were in fact elaborately constructed, imaginative fakes. He was publicly denounced, pundits fretted about the state of journalism -- and Glass bounced back with a book deal soon after.

Lying is the cardinal sin of journalism. Yet, as the uproar over errant New York Times reporter Jayson Blair demonstrated, it may also be alarmingly common. For both Glass and Blair, lying was more than laziness and corner-cutting. It was a way of life. Glass also worked hard at his fabrications, creating faux Web sites and enlisting his brother to fool fact-checkers. So why did they do it?

Robert Reich, M.D., a New York City psychiatrist and expert in psychopathology, says compulsive lying has no official diagnosis. Instead, intentional dissimulation -- not the kind associated with dementia or brain injury -- is associated with a range of diagnoses, such as antisocial, borderline and narcissistic personality disorders. When it comes to compulsive liars, says Charles Ford, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, "words seem to flow out of their mouths without them thinking about it." Ford, the author of Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit, says that pathological liars may slide easily from the notion that something could have happened to the conviction that it did. When pressed, many will admit what they are saying isn't true.

To understand the mind of a fake, Reich suggests considering what lying does for the liar. Deceit as a means to an end -- like lying to get a job -- is easy to comprehend. Much harder to spot, he says, is lying "for primary gains": deceptions that create a different sense of self without any immediate benefit. "It has to do with self-esteem," Reich says. "You want to be like someone else because you aren't very happy with yourself." Glass may be one of these "primary" liars. Former colleagues describe him as desperate for approval; in his novel, The Fabulist, the "Stephen Glass" character says his lies are driven by his need to be seen as infallible, as interesting, as perfect. (The flesh-and-blood Glass had nothing to do with the bio-pic).

Perhaps Glass's fantastic stories were accepted because they satisfied readers' (and editors') longings for a stranger and more exciting world. But if he's just another lonely journalist wanting to be loved, why are we so fascinated by him? Since most of us feel constrained by rules, regulations and propriety, Glass's flamboyant fabrications provide a vicarious thrill. "At some level we are fascinated by people who do whatever they want," Reich says. "We kind of envy them."
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"Only a fool of a scientist would dismiss the evidence and reports in front of him and substitute his own beliefs in their place." - Paul Kurtz

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