Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Assignment 8: Freshmen Blues Revisited

Option 3

Reality Monitoring is a device used to discriminate between memories of imagined and actual experience. It would follow then that given a written account of a friend’s experience from the past, one could determine how true it is by using Reality Monitoring. This is precisely what I did for this assignment. I asked my friend, Alyssa, If I could read the first essay she had ever written for college. The essay was a three page, double-spaced account of her first day at Cornell that she had written for her freshman writing seminar. In her paper, Alyssa described what she did the day her parents left her after helping her move in. She describes how she felt once she was left alone in her dorm room, what she did to occupy herself, and then went into great detail about reading her high school yearbook on the floor of her dorm room for hours.

While imagined stories contain many thoughts and reasonings (cognitive operations), stories about real experiences contain more perceptual, contextual, and affective information. Vrij cites the work of Johnson and Ray to distinguish between these three types of information. Perceptual information includes details we perceive with our senses and physical sensations, contextual information includes where and when details, and affective information include feelings during the event. Based on this idea that real experiences contain a lot of this type of information, I can confidently confirm the truthfulness of Alyssa’s written account.

To start, Alyssa’s account is rich with perceptual information. She recalls the “heavy wooden door” her parents left out of and the “low humming of the small black fans.” For the purpose of her assignment, Alyssa was told to include vivid detail. Although it is obvious from her description that her words are carefully crafted in order to read well, they are accurate in their detail. Alyssa also wrote this essay when she was a freshman, so her first week of school was fresh in her mind. Alyssa also includes a lot of contextual information. Her story begins the second her parents leave her alone in her dorm room for the first time. Alyssa gives great details about “where” the event took place. For most of her story, she describes the comfort she received from skimming her high school yearbook and even tells us where in her room she did so; “sitting Indian-style on the newly blue carpeted floor, I flipped through the various sections of the book.” More than any other type of information, however, Alyssa includes tons of affective information in her account. She really conveys feeling scared and lonely. The sound of the door closing behind her parents is described as “scary and invigorating all at once.” Flipping through the senior ads, she recalls finding the one from her family and feeling “awestruck by the creativity and artistry of my family.” Finally, after hours of looking, she felt that “the thoughts of my past had a comforting effect on thoughts of my future.”

With these concepts in mind, Vrij cites eight criteria for Reality Monitoring which include clarity, perceptual information, spatial information, temporal information, affect, reconstructability of the story, realism, and cognitive operations. It would be pointless to discuss Alyssa’s experience in terms of these criteria because the richness of her account clearly covers them all. The last one, however, is actually a lie criterion which accounts for descriptions of inferences made during the event being described. I can confidently say that this did not appear in Alyssa’s paper.

Using Reality Monitoring, it is not hard to deem Alyssa’s statement as true. I can even attest to the truthfulness of her account, as I knew her at that time and knew certain details she described such as her dorm room. An interesting thing to consider is the fact that she wrote this very soon after the event took place. I would be interested in seeing what an account of her first week at school would look like now. Most likely, it would not be as rich in detail because the feelings and perceptions associated with that time in her life are very distant. Of course, however, the account would still be true it would just be much harder to determine its truthfulness using Reality Monitoring.

If I thought you were lying I'd listen

Option 1

Verbal cues make a clean break away from non-verbal cues. Obviously they are intrinsically different, but our perception and dependence on them in detecting deceit is far different as well. The most interesting difference is that patterns in verbal cues are shown to be more indicative of lying than non-verbal cues. However, people still rely on non-verbal cues much more than they should. They overestimate the likelihood of being able to detect deceit by paying attention to someone’s behavior, and they underestimate the possibility of catching liars by paying attention to their speech content (Vrij, 110-11).

If research indicates that verbal behavior might be more accurate in detecting deceit then why is it not relied upon more? To begin, it appears that people across all cultures have an innate bank of cues on which they draw to detect lies—however inaccurate it is. Bond et al showed that people from around the world all looked to averted eye gaze to detect a liar, but this has been repeatedly shown not to be an accurate predictor. Despite this research, we still rely on inaccurate cues—as evidenced by our class (well versed in deception detection) insisting on relying on cues we knew were inaccurate to unmask a mobster.

The nature of non-verbal cues versus verbal cues also plays an obvious and readily explainable role in elucidating why people still rely on non-verbal cues. The most promising aspect of non-verbal cues, with regards to detecting deceit, is that people generally have only limited control over them. As a result, people look to these cues to indict a liar because they know that even if the liar is trying their best to conceal their deceit, their uncontrollable non-verbal cues will give them away. Extensive research has uncovered some non-verbal patterns associated with lying, but still, the majority of people (even professionals) detect deceit at a rate not much better than chance. So why not depend on verbal cues more? The answer again lies in the controllability of the given cues.

Just as non-verbal behavior is uncontrollable, verbal behavior is controllable—especially for gifted speakers. Lying can affect people emotionally and affect the content of their message (lie). Lying might make people feel guilty and cause them to provide indirect responses or a response that doesn’t refer explicitly to themselves. Furthermore, lying might affect the content of the lie; if someone is forced to lie on the spot their response might be short and stripped of detail (Vrij, 105). However, what if the liar is gifted in the art of deception? A liar who is well aware that someone is looking for indirect responses might reply to any questions very directly and confidently. If the stakes for getting caught are high it is probable that their story will be rehearsed and rife with colorful detail. In short, verbal cues are more controllable than non-verbal cues and this may incite people to rely on non-verbal cues despite their inaccuracy.

Option 3: Drunken Senators

Option 3 reminded me of a Maureen Dowd column from earlier this month, which described a story of two politicians and a night that may or may not have happened. According to an article in The New York Times, on a congressional trip to Estonia two summers ago, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed a vodka-drinking contest, and Republican Senator John McCain happily obliged. The report said that “after dinner drinks had gone so well, McCain later told people who unexpectedly engaging he found Mrs. Clinton to be.” He described her as “one of the guys.” Later, when walking through the Capitol, McCain was said to have been heard happily reminiscing about that night – apparently it had been a while since the Senator had gone through a few rounds of flip cup.

But afterward, Senator McCain denied the evening ever occurred. He went on the conservative talk show Hannity and Colmes and said that the reports of him going shot-for-shot with Senator Clinton were absolutely false. Then he went on Jay Leno and said that, basically, The Times got it wrong. That evening “didn’t happen. It didn’t happen.” McCain turned down the Atlantic Monthly when they wanted an interview to talk about his adventures in the Baltics with a certain senator from New York.

Some might say that it appears this will go down as one of Washington’s unsolvable political mysteries, but I say it is a perfect case for a reality monitoring analysis.

Reality monitoring identifies eight criteria for evaluating a story. They are clarity, perceptual information, spatial information, temporal information, affect, reconstructability, realism and cognitive operations.

The clarity of this story was never really in question. Had there been fewer details and a less vivid description, it probably would not have made for as good of a story. Without the sharp and clear report of who was involved, who initiated the drinking, where they were, what they were doing, etc., The New York Times wouldn’t have had much to put on its cover. And without that cover story, talk show hosts would have seemed a bit off-base discussing Senator McCain’s drinking habits and partners. Indeed the story – regardless of its validity – is clear.

In terms of Perceptual Information, the best we have gleaned of that was McCain’s comments in passing on Capitol Hill when he was joking with reporter Joshua Green that it had been a long time since he had engaged in a drinking game. In the midst of his denial, McCain never told us the smells of the room or the sounds he’d overheard, but he might have been referring to a physical sensation – hangover – when he told Green that it had been a while since he’d something like that.

Spatial Information for this story is tough. We know that the alleged night of drinking occurred on a Congressional trip to the Baltics, specifically Estonia. As near as I can tell, that’s as far as the detail goes – we don’t know the name of the bar or where in the bar they were. However, it is difficult to say whether that should diminish the credibility of the story for two reasons: they were in an unfamiliar city; it is possible that even sitting in the bar, the Senators did not know where they were. The other, of course, is that if a location were to be disclosed, it would only be the name of the place the Senators had dinner. Neither one has denied to having dinner together, and the drinks were said to be “after dinner drinks.” A location would not substantiate or diminish the story.

The clarity of this story goes hand-in-hand with the Temporal Information provided. A sequence of events is provided: several members of the Senate were out to dinner. After dinner, Senator Clinton suggested that the group have a vodka-drinking contest. Senator McCain happily and quickly agreed. There were six senators present along with staff, and all of them drank.

The Affect of the story is really what is in question here. We know that the Senators went out to dinner and more recently Senator McCain has even admitted that he had some drinks that night, but he felt that it was a gross misrepresentation to call it a drinking contest. He has said that he had only a couple of drinks and was relatively sober in comparison to Senators Clinton and Collins, who were “revelers.” Essentially, the Senator has argued that he felt he was not truly partying, while the Times report seemed to suggest that he was.

The story is fairly Reconstructable, once the name of the restaurant is disclosed. All the essential elements could easily be in one place at the same time. We know that the Senators were together; we know they eat dinner; we know they are of age to drink.

The story’s Realism is what made it a headline on The New York Times. Senators Clinton and McCain have shown an unlikely affinity toward each other given their party differences. In fact, one article about the incident was titled, “2008 May Test Clinton’s Bond with McCain,” referring to the fact that the two candidates are running against each other for president. Their friendship has been the object of a great deal of surprise because of their political roles but also lends an element of realism to the story that they would be drinking together.

Finally, McCain’s Cognitive Operations seal the deal for me that this story is true. His comments that Clinton is “one of the guys,” that “she can hold her liquor,” and that “it had been a while” sound like the kinds of things he would be thinking in that situation.
The clarity, reconstructability and realism of this story are untouchable. The cognitive operations and temporal information seem to support its truth. Spatial information in this case seems somewhat irrelevant. The only thing truly subject to dispute here is the affect, and with McCain’s conservative voter base, he has every reason to lie about this instance’s affect on him. All in all, it sounds like Senators Clinton and McCain had a fun night in a bar; I’d like to have been a fly on the wall.

Assignment 8: Option 3: Mirror Mirror on the Wall

I used this assignment as an excuse to reconnect with one of my friends from home with whom I hadn't spoken in about two months. She's doing well, thanks, how about me? I'm good, stressed, the uge. I actually have this one assignment where I basically need her to do a writing assignment for me. Am I serious? Yeah, it'll be fun. Am I out of my mind? No more so than usual! I just needed her to write a little short story about something interesting that happened to her this year.

After a little convincing (including my promising to send her a really big bouquet of flowers on Valentine's day so that she doesn't look pathetic), she wrote the story of what she did at a club this year. She had been having trouble meeting girls that she had a lot in common with until she went out with her friend Jackie and met this really awesome girl. The two of them totally bonded and even though they were both inebriated and in the middle of a club, they really hit it off and ended up talking about "like nothing" all night. Her friend Jackie came over to her towards the end of the night and said, "What have you been doing? I've been looking all over for you!" My friend replied, "I've just been talking to this really cool girl I met." She turned to the girl, "This is my friend, Jackie, who I've been telling you about." Jackie stared at my friend expressionless. "What? She's so cool!" exclaimed my friend. Jackie replied, "Um, you're talking to a mirror." She ended her story with the words: True story.

It was reality monitoring time:
1. Clarity...Eh. I've heard clearer stories but not from this friend. This was actually pretty clear for her.
2. Perceptual Info...In her story, she had mentioned that the club was really crowded. Check.
3. Spatial Info...She said she was in a club. Works for me.
4. Temporal Info...Late at night and she said things like "the whole night" and "towards the end of the night."
5. Affect...She used the word "drunk" but I'm not sure that counts. This one might be missing.
6. Reconstructability...Relatively logical. We could stick a mirror in front of my friend, get her wasted, and have her talk to herself.
7. Realism...You don't know her but I do. It's realisitc.
8. Congitive operations...She did describe that she thought the girl was really cool. However she didn't really say anything she was thinking about the entire time. This friend of mine doesn't exactly spend too much of her time deep in thought, though.

Despite my use of reality monitoring in this exercise, I'd say the real criteria I used to judge her veracity in this assignment was my knowing her. Perhaps the reality monitoring technique of deception detection is best when you don't know the person and would have been more helpful if I had been working on a blog that I'd found of a complete stranger. This criteria also seems pretty easy to fake, even for a liar. An imaginative liar could really do a good job beating this. Luckily, I happen to know that my friend is neither a very good liar nor a very creative storyteller. However, either of those qualities would probably frighten me less than her spending an entire night talking to herself in public.

Reality Monitoring, Assignment 8, Option 3

In Detecting Lies and Deceit, Aldert Vrij discusses two methods of analysis, which can be used to examine statements and attempt to discern truthful from deceptive information. Statement Validity Assessment (SVA) is a truth verifying method and contains criteria to ascertain whether someone is telling the truth. Reality Monitoring, on the other hand, posits that memories based on real experiences differ from memories based on fiction and deals with verbal characteristics of truthful versus fabricated memories. I chose to analyze a friend’s account of a memory using Reality Monitoring, as I wanted to investigate whether or not my friend had lied at all in her statement, and although SVA is useful in determining if someone is telling the truth, its criteria for discovering lies is lacking.

In order to perform a Reality Monitoring analysis, I asked a friend to describe a memory of something bad that happened to her. She wrote a narrative depicting an event two years ago, when she broke her right foot while dancing. As it turns out, I did not know that this person had previously broken her foot, and as a result, was able to apply the Reality Monitoring criteria to the story without preconceived notions or biases.

After evaluating my friend’s memory based on the criteria put forth by the Reality Monitoring technique, I determined it to contain mostly, if not all, truthful information and no lies. This method consists of eight criteria. The first seven measures are expected to be present in truthful memories, and the last (#8) is expected to occur in deceptive memories.

1. Clarity: My friend’s memory was extremely vivid and full of detail. Her account was not at all vague, and I felt as if I could picture the events as I read.
2. Perceptual Information: There were many sensorial experiences included in the statement. She described the pain of breaking her foot in great detail (‘my foot started throbbing so badly I felt like I was going to throw up’), and she included visual information about the hospital where she went for treatment.
3. Spatial Information: The location where she broke her foot (‘a slippery gym’), as well as, where she was taken after the incident occurred (‘the local hospital’) were present in the memory.
4. Temporal Information: The time during which the injury occurred was related. (‘It was December…’) She also described a sequence of events, which is another aspect of temporal information used to discern truthful statements. (‘…I did a routine, simple jump and fell onto my knees. I quickly pushed myself up and fell again.’)
5. Affect: This memory is filled with numerous affectations, illustrating how my friend felt throughout her painful ordeal. She expressed how she felt before, during, and after breaking her foot. (‘I was confused and a little embarrassed.’)
6. Reconstructability of the Story: This criterion is present if one would be able to reconstruct the events of this story, given the information that is contained in it. A reader would easily be able to recreate this story after reading the memory, as all components necessary are contained in the passage.
7. Realism: This criterion relates to whether the story is plausible, realistic, and makes sense. All three of these elements are present in the statement, as breaking one’s foot is a plausible event, and the writer has clearly laid out the chronology of the event so that a reader believes it is realistic and makes sense.
8. Cognitive Operations: These refer to descriptions of inferences made by the participant at the time of the event. The memory did not contain any inferences made by the author, only direct quotations and information regarding the incident.

Based on my analysis of the memory, using Reality Monitoring, I determined that the information my friend related to me was truthful. Her story undeniably met all seven criteria, which indicate truthfulness and did not include the one facet indicative of untruthful memories. Vrij claims that it is likely that Reality Monitoring is more useful when analyzing adults’ statements than children’s statements and is better for analysis of events that happened recently rather than far in the past. I feel that my reliance on Reality Monitoring in this case fits in with Vrij’s evaluation, as I tested an adult who was unlikely to fabricate and believe that an event occurred when she was seventeen, if in fact it did not. Additionally, even though the memory my friend recounted happened two years ago, she was old enough when the event transpired to retain correct and coherent memories.

My friend the liar?

Option 2

For this week’s assignment, I chose to perform a statement validity assessment on my friend, who is a 20 year old male. I chose him because I knew he had a unique situation upon entering his freshman year at college. While all of his friends rushed a fraternity during their first semesters, he was not sure whether a fraternity was for him. Later on, he realized that becoming a member of a fraternity was something that he was interested in and decided to rush as a “spring pledge” in which he was one of three other pledges. Throughout my interview, I asked him questions that would reveal his emotions and thought processes throughout the experience. He spoke primarily about his rush experience and very little about pledging since he explained that this was something he was not allowed to talk about. For privacy reasons, I will describe his responses in my content analysis rather than posting his interview.

Here is my content analysis.

Content Analysis
Logical Structure
My friend did provide information in a logical and coherent manner. When I asked him about rush, he described the process to me. Specifically, he generally described what he did at the houses he rushed at (ie ate food, met the brothers, checked out the houses).
Unstructured production

Information was not at all scattered. He provided very concise answers to my questions. Although his answers were not very detailed (I will get to that in a little), his answers followed a coherent order.
Quantity of Details

There were very few details in his testimony. Essentially, he provided me with a list of answers, rather than answering the question and developing his answers. He did not describe to me any houses in particular which I found interesting considering he rushed several. He did not describe any particular time, places, people or events in rich detail. When I asked him to elaborate, he still provided me with very general statements. According to Soppe, “a request to elaborate on some issues is more likely to result in additional information if the statement is truthful than if the statement is fabricated.” Therefore, the lack of detail in his statements implies deception in his testimony.
Contextual Embedding

This was present in his testimony. While describing rush, he also described other daily activities like eating. He stated, “I got to meet a lot of the guys in my house. They gave us good food too.”
Description of Interactions

This was present in his testimony when he described some of the interactions he had with some of the guys in the houses he rushed and during pledging. Specifically, he spoke about how because there were only three other pledges, a lot of attention was focused on them to complete tasks. He said that pledging may have been more difficult for him and the two other pledges because the tasks that they were asked to complete could be fulfilled by 3 people rather than the 17 who were in the fall pledge class.
Reproduction of Speech

This was not present in his testimony. This is because there was a lack of detail throughout the interview.
Unexpected complications

This was not present in his testimony. I don’t believe there were any complications.
Unusual Details

This was somewhat present in his testimony. While he described rush and pledging in general, he did speak a lot about the food at the different houses!
Superfluous Detail

This was not present in his testimony. All of his answers were extremely concise and too the point, however, the food aspect seemed somewhat superfluous.
Accurately reported details misunderstood

This was not present in the testimony. The only way we could detect whether details were misunderstood would be if we spoke to the brothers he met at the houses. My friend said that he thought the brothers in his house liked him because he spoke to a lot of guys every time he went to the house. While I do not know whether this is true or not, one way details could be misunderstood would be if he thought the guys liked him because he spoke to many; however, maybe he spoke to many for other unknown reasons.
Related external associations

This was not present in his testimony
Accounts of Subjective Mental State
This was present when I asked him about his emotions during rush and pledging. He told me that rushing the houses was nerve wracking. He also told me that pledging was extremely stressful because he had to balance his school work with pledging.
Attribution of Perpetrator’s mental state

This was not present
Spontaneous Corrections

There was one instance of a spontaneous correction when I asked him why he chose the house he chose. He said he felt he shared similar interests in sports with them. But then he stopped and said actually, “there’s more too it. I felt I could relate to most of the guys and I thought I would feel most comfortable in the one I chose.”
Admitting Lack of Memory

Not present
Raising Doubts about testimony
Not present
Self Deprecation

This was somewhat present. When he was talking about the different houses he said “I felt like it was like a job interview, and I am not that good at starting up conversations.”
Pardoning the Perpetrator

Not present. There was no perpetrator
Detailed Characteristic of the offense

Not present. There was no offense.

Total: 11/38

Although my friend scored very low on the SVA, there are several aspects that need to be addressed. First, many of the characteristics did not apply to my friend’s testimony. This is particularly the case for categories such as pardoning the perpetrator, raising doubts about the testimony, accurately reporting details misunderstood and a detailed characteristic of the offense. While other characteristics were not present in his testimony, (ie lack of memory, reproduction of speech, etc), the former categories would most likely not be present in a story about “rush” or “pledging.” Vrij sited some studies that use the first fourteen categories. This would have been more applicable to my test since many of the final categories were not applicable.
Although my friend scored very low, I do not think he was necessarily telling me a false testimony. Perhaps factors that led to a low score could be attributed to the lack of detail throughout his testimony.
Lastly, the text states that evaluators who are familiar with CBCA achieve higher accuracy ratings than evaluators who are not familiar. Since this is my first attempt with CBCA, my accuracy should be much lower than those who have more experience with CBCA. However, with a little bit of experience, maybe I could become an expert in deception detection using this technique.

Shades of Gray

Option 3

I chose to do the third option for this week’s assignment because I am a member of a group listserv here on campus that we lovingly refer to as “spam-l” for its utterly useless content. The listserv was created for the purpose of moving our discussion of mundane topics, pointless debates, internet oddities, personal stories, and funny pictures away from our main “events-l” listserv. Well, the idea worked and in the year and I half that I have been a member of the listserv it has received just over 11,000 e-mails (and that from a group of around 50 members). Like I said, spam-l is often the venue for an elaborate story whose veracity is always in question. The perfect subject for a reality monitoring analysis.

The story I chose was written by a friend this past summer while he was interning in Boston this past summer. Apparently engineering interns don’t have enough work to do, because he would send a fairly elaborate story detailing his escapades to the listserv at least once a week. In this particular story he talked about a girl he met while in Boston who is also an engineer and goes to Cornell. He described how they met at the internship, the interests they had in common, how they hit it off and went on a few “dates,” how she told him two weeks later that she had a boyfriend, and how they continued to remain friends and hang out. Keep in mind that this story is spread out over a 3-4 page e-mail filled with elaborate descriptions, (probably) embellished story telling and the general good sense of humor I can expect from my friend. He was writing to entertain all of us, even while keeping us updated with the events in his life. But was he telling the truth? That is for reality monitoring to decide.

Reality monitoring lays out eight criteria on which to judge a story or statement: 1) clarity; 2) perceptual information; 3) spatial information; 4) temporal information; 5) affect; 6) reconstructability of the story; 7) realism; and 8) cognitive operations. The story my friend told is most definitely clear, vivid, and lively. Of course, this could be because he wrote up his memory as a story, embellishing certain parts and emphasizing others in an effort to entertain us, the readers. Since the story describes his interactions with the girl he had just met and was getting along well with, it is full of perceptual information. Although lacking in physical sensations, he more than makes up for it with visual details and descriptions of what they did and saw (i.e. the color of the theater they walked into, the pleasantness of the food at dinner, etc). Likewise, it is all presented in an ordered, temporal format in which the chronological order is precisely described and followed. The story also is very affective, as he describes how each action the two take together make him feel (i.e. “it made me happy…”, “I was crushed…”, “we had an awkward tension between us that I was enjoying…”, etc). Comparable to the temporal situation, the story was also perfectly reconstructable. It was told in a temporal order and filled in with many, many details – much more than we would ever need to just get the point of the story. Similarly, the story is quite believable. It is exactly the kind of situation I have seen my friend in before, and he behaved in similar manners. It is consistent with what I know to be his manner and reality. Finally, the story also had a number of cognitive operations (i.e. “it suddenly occurred to me that we might not be on the same page…” or “I interpret it as a ‘gosh, I kinda like you’ smile”). So his story more than meets all eight criteria of Sporer’s Reality Monitoring criteria – the seven “truth criteria” and the one “lie criteria.” Does it make the story true?

Personally, I believe the basis of the story. I believe my friend did meet this girl, that they hit it off for a couple of weeks before she told him that she had a boyfriend, and that they continued to hang out for the rest of the summer. However, I also believe that my friend was writing a story to entertain all of us, and as such, all of the facts may not be entirely true or may be embellished. Since e-mail is a very composable medium, he certainly had the time to plan, write, and edit the story before sending it out to the listserv. It’s not like he seemed to be doing much work at the internship after all. In my mind, there were just too many unnecessary details (which Vrij talked about as potentially signaling a false statement), which, while embellishing the story, added little to the factual information. Overall, everything just seemed very neat, packaged, predictable, and fantastic in the way he told the story for it to be all genuine. But reality monitoring signaled that story was, in essence, bona fide thing. So I went and asked my friend how much was actually true.

At first he protested my questions, saying that of course it was all true and how could I accuse him of sending something false or embellished out to spam-l. We both burst out laughing and he admitted that while the basis of the story was legitimate, he made up a number of things and embellished many others. What does this say about reality monitoring? Seemingly, it can’t distinguish between shades of truth where the story is essentially true but where many of the details are not. Is there any way, between reality monitoring and CBCA, that such shades could be detected and the overall veracity verified? This could be an interesting topic in which further analysis would be necessary. Honors thesis anyone?

Do you believe in ghosts?

In light of Halloween, I selected a “real” ghost story from a blog online as my data for reality monitoring. Here’s the story:

Yes and yes. I'm a true believer in the spirit/occult world. ...and I've only ever seen a ghost once, but I'm so certain of what I saw. I know it was real and I wasn't dreaming. Freshman year of college, in the middle of the night, I woke up and rolled over in our constantly christmas-light-lit room and saw a young girl in a long white dress hovering by our door. The top of her head was about a foot below the ceiling. Perhaps because I was in the top bunk, and the one meant to see her? Although she never looked at me or said anything, I felt an unexpected felling of comfort and calmness. If you were to ask me what I'd do seeing something like this, I'd assume I'd be scared out of my gourd, and hide under the covers or something, but this wasn't the case. I felt so at peace, so safe, that I stared for a minute in surreal awe, then rolled over and went back to sleep. Very strange, but it was a sight, and feeling that will stay with me forever. I know I wasn't dreaming this one up. I know I was awake and saw what I saw.

I picked this story because it is full of vivid imagery that one would generally associate with truth-telling. However, this author posted her data on an asynchronous medium, so we know that she could have spent a great amount of time fabricating a story. Given what we know about the features of online text-based media, this blog certainly deserves more investigation in the form of reality monitoring.

After an initial assessment, the criteria for reality monitoring point to this story being true. Based on the list of criteria proposed by Vrij, it is reasonable to believe that this event did occur in the mind of the author. However, my own reasoning and past experiences still make me very skeptical as a reader due to the realism criterion. Although Vrij might propose that this story contains truthful statements, my better judgment tells me that some criteria should carry more weight than others when using reality monitoring, such as realism. Thus, I am still somewhat torn about this story. My theory is that either the author suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and truly believes this happened, or she had a great time fabricating a believable story from her imagination. The following paragraphs will describe my reasoning.

When analyzing this story, the first thing that I noticed is that there is a great amount of affect. The author of the story describes feeling at peace, safe, and in awe. She also reports an usual feeling of calmness. Based on the criteria for truthful statements, she certainly describes her feelings in detail. Even though this is not described in reality monitoring in the book, I would also assert that her uncharacteristic emotions for this situation (being calm instead of frightened) give her a certain amount of credibility. I believe a liar would be much more likely to report feeling scared about an event such as seeing a ghost because this is what an audience would expect. At the same time, the author clearly recognizes that fright is what the audience would expect, so pointing this out with words does make her lose some of this credibility. Thus, we cannot draw conclusions based on her affect.

Other requirements set forth by Vrij in reality monitoring are that truthful statements contain spatial and temporal information. This entry has both, because we know that this event occurred in the middle of the night with a room set up in a distinct manner. Although the time assessment is broad, the spatial assessment is quite precise. The author remembers the ghost’s head hovering by the door one foot from the ceiling. If this statement were false, it is doubtful that the liar would be this precise with the spatial arrangement of the room. Furthermore, a liar might not add that he or she was on the top bunk specifically. In this case, I think one of two things is possible. Either the girl is a paranoid schizophrenic and is reciting a particular memory, or the girl thought it would be funny to carefully write out an elaborate story using an asynchronous medium. Unless, of course, ghosts do exist.

The above story is fairly clear and vivid, which are other criteria of a truthful story. However, one can also attribute this to the features of the medium which allow for a vivid story to be constructed. Perceptual information is lacking for senses such as hearing, smelling, and tasting, but this story is rich in visual and emotional information.

Although the above statements do support the side that the story might be truthful, my main reasons for believing this story could be fabricated by a liar are due to criteria #7 and #8. First, I do not think this story is very plausible given my past experiences, although others might disagree. The odds of waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the ghost of a young girl hovering near the ceiling in a white dress are pretty slim, so this story deserves a low score for realism. The story is also full of cognitive operations which describe inferences made by the participant at the time of the event, such as “I know I wasn't dreaming this one up. I know I was awake and saw what I saw.” The author also describes the feelings she thinks she should have felt at the time, which are self-referential inferences.

After examining this story using reality monitoring, it is reasonable to say that this example includes confounding components that make a clear assessment difficult. I believe Vrij fails to recognize that certain criteria should be more important for different stories, as I certainly give more weight to realism than to spatial information. Although a number of explanations can exist about the author of this story, I would put my money on a woman laughing as she fabricates a “realistic” ghost story for blogger.com, and I believe she took the time to write out a detailed story.

Assignment 8.3: Don't you lie to me

I asked my girlfriend to write a crazy story about something in her life. If alarms aren’t going off yet, notice that I asked my girlfriend. As we have read before, this should magnify my truth bias. I am less likely to find lies in her story, but I will try my hardest.

She wrote about a car accident, which we actually discussed before. This made it slightly easier to pick up on any discrepancies, which can be classified under the ‘reconstructability of the story.’ I was unable to pick up on any differences between the two versions, so she will get a 1/7 for the time being. Although she claims to have blacked out and have fuzzy memories, her ‘clarity’ is very strong. She was able to reconstruct many of the main events that took place with great detail, so we will give her 2/7. Next, I examined ‘perceptual information.’ She explained many things that she saw and noted that she was unable to hear. Once again, she passed this part of the test, 3/7 for her. After slipping on the ice, she mentions getting out of the car and looking at a man whose car slammed into a lamppost. This is only one example of her ‘spatial and temporal information’ use which brings her story up to 5/7. Like most people who are in car accidents, she became delirious. She explains doing things and feeling ways that she wouldn’t normally feel. This covers the ‘affect’ aspect of reality monitoring and so we will bump her up to 6/7. Finally, I examined realism. Although her story has a logical flow, I do not believe some aspects of the story. They might only be slight exaggerations, but I am unable to give her the full 7/7. Hopefully I won’t get in trouble. She also avoids any ‘cognitive operations,’ which could indicate deception.

Overall, I believe this story to be true. With most stories, there might be some minor exaggerations, but nothing that raises suspicion of deception. Although in her story she was able to cover most of the truth criteria while avoiding the deception criteria, others who have experienced something similar may not fair the same way. I have not been in a car accident, but I imagine that the mind is in a drastically altered state due to shock. This may cause a story to appear less truthful, because of how the mind recalls the event.

On a side note, it may be better for each student to write a story knowing that they have the option to lie then swap with someone in the class. I was unable to think of a clever way to ask someone to tell a story and possibly lie in it.

Tell Me Everything

Assignment 8, Option 2

I chose to interview a close friend about her night this past weekend and perform a CBCA analysis based on the nineteen "criteria for statement analysis" found in Table 5.1 in Vrij (page 117). I used the method where each of the criteria is rated 0, 1, or 2, making the maximum total score equal to thirty-eight.

1. Logical structure - 2
Coherent, logical, well-structured.
2. Unstructured production - 1
Almost completely chronological, except for one small segment that she remembered and added partway through.
3. Quantity of details - 1
Fairly detailed, but not as much as the example given in Vrij.
4. Contextual embedding - 1
Mentioned "after class" to place things in context
5. Descriptions of interactions - 2
Lots of 'em.
6. Reproduction of speech - 0
None. Only descriptions of interactions
7. Unexpected complications during the incident - 2
Tangent about a long line for the bathroom at a party.
8. Unusual details - 1
There were some unusual details, but not many.
9. Superfluous details - 2
Mentions painting nails in the middle of description and getting a water bottle somewhere. Kinda random.
10. Accurately reported details misunderstood - 0
Not really applicable...
11. Related external associations - 1
I don't think so... Not sure, so we'll go with a neutral 1.
12. Accounts of subjective mental state - 2
"upset" and "freaking out"
13. Attribution of perpetrator's mental state - 1
No real perpetrator in incident, but she did describe someone else's feelings at one point.
14. Spontaneous corrections - 2
The one about the water bottle.
15. Admitting lack of memory - 0
Nope, but it's a pretty recent memory.
16. Raising doubts about one's own testimony - 0
Nope, see above.
17. Self-deprecation - 1
Maybe a little. Not much.
18. Pardoning the perpetrator - 0
Not applicable, no perpetrator.
19. Details characteristic of the offense - 0
Not applicable.

Total: 19 out of 38

However, I feel that this is not accurate since many of the later criteria were not applicable. Some studies discussed by Vrij only used the first fourteen criteria (Lamb et al., 1997). If we only look at those fourteen, the result is 18 out of 28.

This result is more than half of the points possible. However, since the test is not standardized, it is difficult to draw a definite conclusion. If we had multiple statements, some true and some false, it would be easier to divide them out. I think that having above half of the potential points is a pretty good argument for truth. In Lamb et al. (1997), about half of the points were received by the true stories, as was the case with Craig (1995).

I think the method is pretty neat, and I'll definitely be keeping its elements in mind next time I'm questioning the veracity of a story.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Assignment 8--Vrij+cues = <3

Option A

Vrij tells us, "there is no typical verbal deceptive behavior." However, Statement Validity Assessment and Reality Monitoring are popular lie detection techniques. Vrij outlines the 7 verbal characteristics that may/may not contribute to deceptive behavior: negative statements (denials, disparaging remarks), plausible answers, irrelevant information, overgeneralization (use of "everybody," "always," etc), self-references, direct answers, response length.
Emotions play a role as well. For example, sometimes liars may feel guilty about lying or what they're lying about and may tend to overgeneralize and refrain from self-references. Another example of emotion impacting a deceptive situation is becoming irritable--this might increase usage of short answers or negative statements.
Content complexity is significant in regards to plausibility, as well as deceivers limiting how much they divulge and self-references. However, deceivers want do not want to appear suspiciously trite, so they may provide irrelevant information.
Vrij compiled results from studies dating as far back as 1974 through 1999, and what he found was:
1. Liars make more negative statements
2. Liars make fewer self-references
3. Liars use shorter answers
4. Liars are more indirect
5. Liars seem less plausible
6. Liars stink

In regards to non-verbal deception detection, there has been much less consistent and limited evidence in findings. Since verbal detection has proven more consistent, it should therefore be considered more symptomatic when lies are being told. Unfortunately, as varies points out, as soon as we emphasize certain verbal characteristics in liars, those liars will eventually learn to overcompensate and divert attention from those expected cues.

Assignment 8 - The Battle Between Verbal and Nonverbal...again

For Assignment 8, I've decided to compare and contrast the verbal and nonverbal characteristics found to be linked to lying.

The first stark contrast between the two that Vrij mentions is that researchers have been able to identify some verbal criteria that are more likely to occur in false statements than in true ones, ccontrary to nonverbal research. Nonverbal research has shown that there is no one or two nonverbal actions or characteristics consistently occurring in false statements. This, as Vrij says, suggests that the relationship between deception and certain verbal criteria is somewhat clearer than the relationship between deception and most nonverbal behaviors. In reality, most people claim to rely on nonverbal indicators when searching for deception, which at times can be successful and accurate, but most of the time is inconsistent and inaccurate. From what Vrij suggests in his short chapter on verbal characteristics is that there are seven simple verbal criteria people can rely on when attempting to detect a lie. Essentially, observers might improve their lie detection skills by paying more attention to what someone is saying (p. 111).

In comparison with nonverbal characteristics, verbal characteristics may differ from person to person in terms of how and when that person uses a certain characteristic in conversation. Specifically, some people have different conversational and communication styles that can be linked to deception, when, in fact, it's their normative communication style. Additionally, nonverbal and verbal characteristics can be used in tandem, which, assuming the the research is correct, would yield an obvious opportunity for the observer to catch a lie if it is present. But this might not be the case. Instead, the subject typically doesn't make eye contact when providing complex information to someone that takes a long time (Response length verbal characteristic), even someone he/she knows the person observer (this happened to me today, that's why it's apparent).

In essence, as much as researchers claim they understand verbal characteristics linked to deception, it's equally as difficult, I think, to detect deception using verbal characteristics as using nonverbal characteristics. People aren't savvy enough, in context or in real-time, to understand or pick up on these verbal characteristics quicckly enough to recognize a lie. Vrij offers interesting examples of these characteristics, but he's too presumptive, I think, based on the literature, by saying that there are verbal characterstics linked to deception detection more so than nonverbals. It is interesting, however, to consider the research's findings, though, considering most people tend to rely on nonverbals to detect liars, while we're being told that verbal characteristics might be more accurate and helpful to us.

Assignment 8 -- Trouble with Teachers

Option C – Reality Monitoring

Reality monitoring is a process which attempts to differentiate between experienced events and imagined events, by looking at verbal characteristics which are indicative of real or imagined experiences. 7 criteria are thought to occur more in truthful statements (actually experienced events) while 1 criterion is though to occur more in deceptive statements (imagined experiences).

I felt that my results would be biased if I asked a friend to recall a story, because I think that they would be more likely to tell me the truth, and I also would be more likely to believe their story. So, I searched for a random blog, and took a story I found there. The blogger is a 17 year old girl from Singapore, and her blog post can be found here: http://raining-noodles.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-think-therefore-i-am-i-think.html.

Here is the story I analyzed: My apprehension around teachers dates back eight years. Ms G had left the class to attend to some important affair after warning us to remain quiet. But have you ever witnessed thirty children silently seated at their desks without the supervision of an adult? Neither have I. My classmate whispered to me that apparently it's impossible to hold a bottle of water with your arm stretched out straight for more than seven minutes, and one second later a group of us were counting out loud, my best friend's arm horizontal to the ground, a watch in my hand. Clearly, the search for truth is way more important than reducing noise pollution.

By the time Ms G's sneaky sneakers entered the classroom my fate had already been sealed, and because I'd been the timer, The Loud Person Who Did Most Of The Counting Out Loud Very Loudly, I alone was invited outside the classroom for a lecture by Ms G. Except that it would have actually been more comforting if she had actually articulated something, because all she did was stare at me with disappointment and rebuke in her eyes which brought me to tears more quickly than any onion I have ever diced. To this day I can still remember the route I took from my chair to the corridor and back, the flight of stairs to our right and sixty ears perked up behind me, and the orientation of our classroom -- A remarkable feat for someone who habitually loses her way in any area bigger than a small room, whose sense of direction parallels religion in that its existence may just be a matter of faith.

I found it interesting that this was written by a young adult, telling a story she experienced when she was 9 years old. Despite having happened 8 years ago, I found that it did exhibit all of the truth criteria. The story, despite being told in a very entertaining manner, was very clear, exhibiting clarity (#1) and also allowing for someone to be able to reconstruct the story themselves (#6). It is very easy to figure out the sequence of events from this story. The story also exhibits realism (#7), because most of us are familiar with schoolchildren, and know that it’s very hard for them to be quiet!

The author also included perceptual information (#2), such as hearing her teacher’s sneakers, and counting out loud. There was spatial information (#3) talking about the classroom and the hallway, and there was temporal information (#4) when she mentioned “one second later” the action took place. She also wrote about affect (#5), when she described tears in her eyes after being rebuked by her teacher.

She was very clear in writing this story, and doesn’t exhibit and cognitive operations (#8) at all. She never leaves any indication that she isn’t completely sure about what happens. And after analyzing this with reality monitoring, I would agree that she really does remember this situation, and that it really did happen like she says. The only concern I have is that this story, she says, did take place when she was a younger child, and Vrij mentions that younger children are more likely to believe that something took place when it actually did not take place. It could be that she constructed this event when she was a child, and today still believes that it did happen. This is why Vrij states that reality monitoring would probably be best on adults. But based on the criteria of reality monitoring, I believe that her story is true.

Assignment 8

Reality Monitoring deals with memory characteristics of perceived (actually experienced) and imagined events. The main idea behind reality monitoring is that memories based on real experiences differ from memories based on fiction. For this assignment, I looked at my 22 year old friend's blogspot, and chose one of the stories to monitor.

The story is about how my friend got the chance to interview Michelle Monaghan, an actress from MI3, at her spring internship in Sydney. In the blog, it says that her manager had training on Monday, so she asked her to do the interview. She recently saw a movie with the actress in it, which she says is now one of her favorite movies, and she agreed to do the interview. She then goes on to mention that she is really excited about interviewing an internationally known superstar who has been in movies with Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie. She then goes on to talk about the interview, and about how the actress was so pretty and thin in real life. The interview went really well and she was able to ge a picture with the actress.

In order to determine the reality of this story, it is important to see how much perceptual, contextual, and affective information is in the story. Perceptual information contains visual details, sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations; Contextual information contains details about where and when the event took place; and Affective information contains details about how someone felt during the event. Statements about actually experienced events included more perceptual information, more spatial information, and more temporal information than statements about imagined events.

After learning all of the criteria for reality monitoring, I determined that my friend's story was entirely truthful. She used a lot of perceptual information, specifically about how she felt when she was asked to do the interview, and how she physically felt before and after the interview took place. There was a lack of contextual information about where the event took place, but since she had an internship in Sydney, it was understood that it took place at her workplace there. If this story took place in another frame of reference, it might not have been as believable. She included a lot of affective information about how she felt in the story. She used a lot of exclamations and capitalized words which really showed her excitement. There were also somexpletiveses in there that made her emotion even more convincing.

Overall, I think that Vrij's approach of Reality Monitoring worked very well in the case of analyzing a story in a blog. I feel that my ability to detect deception has grown, and that the next time I hear a story, or read one, I will know what to look for in order to determine how truthful it really is.

Assignment 8: Is a false memory a lie?

Option 3

Reality Monitoring is a concept that deals with the difference between remembered events and actually experienced events. The basic premise is that memories based on real experiences differ from memories based on fiction. It is important to point out that reality monitoring research in a deception context is relatively new because it has nothing to do with telling lies. Just because someone remembers something differently than how it actually happened, does it make them a liar? Because there are sometimes gaps in memory, people tend to use fillers by including information they don’t actually remember but makes sense and is probably true. Understandably, this happens more often in imagined events.
Because reality monitoring is so new to the art of detecting deception, there’s no standardized set of criteria, but Vrij discusses eight criteria employed by Sporer. These eight criteria include clarity, perceptual information, spatial information, temporal information, affect, reconstructability of the story, realism, and cognitive operations. The first seven criteria theoretically occur more often in truthful statements while cognitive operations are expected to occur more often in deceptive statements. The idea here is that real experiences contain more perceptual information (visual details, sounds), more contextual information (where, when), and more affective information (how you felt), whereas memories about imagined experiences rely more on cognitive operations such as thoughts and reasoning. An example of this would be if you remember something based on your assumptions rather that the actual event (i.e. Someone asks if you Nicole and Jackie were together in the library when you saw Nicole earlier today, you don’t remember specifically if they were together when you saw Nicole today, but they’re usually together so you answer Yes).
I decided to ask a friend of mine if she remembered the first time we met freshman year, assuming that I remembered clearly the first time we had met. In actuality, she remembered and proved to me that I was the one that didn’t remember. But this is of course assuming that she’s telling me the truth (either way she did a good job of convincing me). She pointed out that we had a class together and the reason her description was so convincing was because she pointed out what time the class was (temporal information), where I sat (spatial), and even who I sat next to! Besides the fact that she had all the correct information, none of her memories were based on thoughts or reasoning; they were all details. This could pose for a potential problem though…
Reality monitoring criteria overlaps with some of the Criteria-Based Content Analysis criteria and they are both based on verbal indicators. However, they also both lack support for lie criterion. Both methods for detecting lies argue that truth-tellers include certain types of information more often than “liars,” but there’s no evidence that liars include more cognitive operations in their accounts than truth-tellers. Another set back for using reality monitoring is that its reliability may decrease as a function of time. If anything, this research just points out further that no cues necessarily indicate deception is occurring.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Super long analysis using SVA

For this week’s assignment I decided to perform a statement validity assessment (SVA) on a 21 year old male. I was excited to use this technique on a 21 year old, rather than a young child, to test the Vrij’s theory that SVA might be useful to assess testimonies given by adults in contexts other than sexual abuse cases. My interview would focus more on the concept of peer pressure.
Therefore, my first task was to create a structured interview with a peer. I chose to ask, “Do you remember the first time you drank and could you share the experience with me?”

Here is the statement he made.
My first experience with beer.

On the day after my high school graduation, I was allowed to go to some graduation parties by my parents. Actually they insisted that I go because I didn’t have a social life outside of the classroom, and high school friends were and continue to be a large part of my parents life. I didn’t want to go, I was not specifically invited, and was interested in working on our family farm, both to earn money and prepare myself to study animal science at Cornell. But I went anyways, and found some of my buddies from class and sports who were also going from party to party. I wasn’t unpopular, just didn’t really hang out with friends outside of school, so I was accepted into the social circle at these parties pretty readily. The big drinking party was later that night and the whole class was going to be there. I kind of wanted to go, I never had a beer before and didn’t want to go to Cornell and be the only kid who hadn’t. But I couldn’t go, my parents had a rule that “if I was going out tonight, I was going to be back tonight, and that means tonight tonight, not tomorrow morning tonight.” So they would be waiting up for me. Also I wouldn’t drive home after drinking, for a lot of reasons. And I had to work at 330 the next morning. So anyways I wasn’t going. Even though I was pressured a fair amount. It was about 4:30pm at one of the parties, and a kid I knew from the wrestling team showed up with some Budweiser. He had a 24 pack of bottles and 18 cans in a cooler in the back of his truck. And he offered me one, but I told him I was driving, and couldn’t, so then he said take one for later. And I did. I put it underneath the driver’s seat of my car, to hide it in case I was pulled over. Later at the same party, the kid said that they were still free, so I took another. I continued party hopping, with two beers under my seat, until about 930 when most of the kids I knew went to the kegger, and the parents that were hosting the last party took the opportunity to relax with their friends. So I went home, but on my way I pulled over to hide the two beers in the compartment in my trunk where the spare tire is so that they wouldn’t be found by anyone, especially my parents. About two weeks passed, and my parents went away together for an evening, so I took the opportunity to move my beers from my car. My new hiding place was on the third floor of one of our old barns, not being used for anything. The barn was originally used for laying hens, so there were a ton of roosts on that level. I put my beers in one of the roosts in the corner, where it was far from the entrance and very poorly lit. Well I mean there was a light but no one would ever think to look there. Then in fear my parents would come home, I went to bed, still not ready to actually drink a beer. So in mid-July, I was starting to have a greater fear that once I went to college I was going to be the only one to have never tasted a beer and was worried that I would have a facial reaction when I finally did, that people would find out my secret. Then my opportunity presented itself. My parents told me that the next day they would be going to an event with some friends, and my sister was going too, so I would have to finish chores myself at the farm. Everything worked out to my plan. My family left, I hurried through the chores, and checked to see if anyone was around, then went to my secret spot on the third floor of the old chicken barn. I got one beer and brought it down to the bottom level, to better watch and react if my parents came home, which they didn’t. I drank the beer pretty slowly, it tasted pretty bad, especially since it had sat in the trunk of my car for about two weeks, and then in a barn for nearly another month, but I really didn’t know any better. So then I was drunk, and went in my house to eat a bunch of foods that smelled so that I didn’t have any odor of beer on me. And I was hungry.

Criteria-based content analysis (CBCA)
1. Logical structure- I would say that his account was structured logically. However, he asked for five minutes to think about what his statement would be. Therefore I think, with more time, an individual can organize their order of the thoughts better and deliver a more organized narrative.
2. Unstructured production- There is little unstructured production. I think this is where this test should be altered when interviewing an adult attesting to a non-traumatizing experience. In my subjects case, he had no reason, other than a little embarrassment, to mix up the order of the event. I do not this however means that he is lying but rather that he had a firm grasp of what happened. This shows that the character of the subject and their perception of the event really matters in this test.
3. Quantity of details- Specific description of place (parties, barn), time (graduation, party 1, party 2, drive home, barn), people(parents, wrestling friend, sister), objects(Budweiser, smelly food), and events (drive home,when he actually drank the beer).
4. Contextual embedding- I think he does provide contextual embedding because he explains that in the decision of whether or not to drink, what time he had to be home, and what time he had to work in the morning.
5. Descriptions of interactions- He describes interactions when he talks about his conversation with the wrestling team mate.
6. Reproduction of speech- He reproduced exactly what his dad says to him before he goes out at night, as well as an aspect of the conversation he had with the wrestling friend about not being able to drink that night.
7. Unexpected complications during the incident- He didn’t really provide any of these.
8. Unusual details- A great example here would be when he talks about the parents who could take it easy when the kids moved to the next party, as well as when he talks about his parents going out to events together with friends.
9. Superfluous details- I guess a superfluous detail would be that he got out of his car, a little ways away from the party, to hide the beer in an empty compartment of the car because he was afraid the cops would find it if he got pulled over.
10. Accurately reported details misunderstood- I also think this would be a criterion I would eliminate because at 17 my subject was pretty aware of the situation. He wanted to try a beer but didn’t feel he had the right opportunity. If he had explained a really confusing feeling after the consumption then I would say the detail of being drunk was misunderstood but he bluntly assumed in the testimony he was in fact drunk.
11. Related external associations- I’m a little confused on how to look for this criterion in the text. I believe a related external association would be that the subject was also scared that he may have a facial reaction to the beer.
12. Accounts of subjective mental state- He definitely provides accounts of his mental state in the beginning when he talks about the pressure of partying as well as when he talks about all the thought he had put into when he could get away with drinking the hidden beer.
13. Attribution of perpetrator’s mental state- This could also be an eliminated criterion. There is no true perpetrator, we are just using this SVA to see if he is telling the truth.
14. Spontaneous corrections- When he discusses where he hid the beer, he provides a spontaneous correction of the atmosphere/lighting.
15. Admitting lack of memory- He never doubts his memories. He seems pretty confident in his testimony.
16. Raising doubts about one’s own testimony- Again he seems confident.
17. Self-deprecation- The subject does admit that it was silly for him to leave the beer in his car so long and that he didn’t know then that beer goes bad if left in the heat too long. That could account for the terrible taste he experienced.
18. Pardoning the perpetrator- Again there really was no perpetrator. This could probably be left out.
19. Details characteristic of the offence- I don’t believe this criterion applies either.

After considering this CBCA, I would say that my subject was being honest in his testimony for many of the same reasons that Vrij discusses in chapter 5. For instance, if he was a fabricator he wouldn’t have provided as many relevant details, such as where he went, where he hid the beer, when he actually drank it, as well as perceptually what the experience was like, and what he did to hide his offense. If he was lying, I don’t think he would have been able to make such great connections between his internal logic and actions. He provided way too many superfluous and unusual details that probably wouldn’t have even crossed a fabricator’s mind.

Validity Checklist
In summary I felt the assessment could have been skewed for a couple of reasons.

For instance, because my interviewee and I have a rather close relationship his only request was that I simply transcribe what he was saying and minimize my own comments and nonverbal reactions. In this way, he pointed out a few drawbacks of SVA. For one, my close relationship with the subject may have affected my analysis of his story. He was afraid that if I did even catch a glimpse of his facial expressions, when telling his story, I would rely too much on his nonverbal behavior to make a decision on the validity of the experience. Because he was also talking about an experience that happened five years prior, he felt that I may not believe his story because it casts him in a contrastingly different light than I see him in currently. Finally, his level of embarrassment may also effect the information he provided because he didn’t want me to change my perception of him too much. Thus I believe a SVA would be more reliable if the subject and interviewer weren’t familiar and wouldn’t have any future interaction.
I had concern as the interviewer and assessor as well because I have little experience in this sort of assessment and was not sure how much weight I should place on certain criteria or even if I should include any of them in my final decision. I also felt I may become too subjective, as I allowed a truth bias to creep into my assessment. Especially because the subject was my boyfriend I was afraid I may be too quickly thinking that I would know him well enough to know if this testimony was true or not.
In front of the computer, I spent most of the interview not looking at the subject, but instead transcribing his story and staring at the screen to limit the effect of our relationship. I chose to set up an open-ended interview so that he did not feel forced or limited in the amount of information and detail he could provide.

In conclusion, I think that this assessment is a useful tool for distinguishing a true testimony from a false one. I did however feel that my intuition most of the time helped me distinguish whether or not the criteria pointed to honesty or deception. I agree with the criticism that SVA assessments may be way too subjective and therefore I would feel uncomfortable using this technique in high stakes criminal trials. However, when just trying to detect fabrications in a close friend’s testimony of an experience, I think this sort of assessment is very useful.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One more thing

If anyone saw my notebook, I left it in class today (Thursday), and picked it up that'd be great. I went and checked after my next class and it wasn't there or at the COMM department. So if anyone could let me know that'd be great.



Last week's assignment... THIS WEEK!

Option 3

Wikipedia has information on everyone and everything (whether true or not). In fact, I’m creating an entry on the site for myseld where, in summation, it says “August 28, 1986: Greatness begins” and when I die someone will finish it with “(Date): Greatness ended… Or did it?” just to keep people on their toes.

Back onto topic, what would a definition for “Digital Deception” sound like? Wikiepdia defines a lie as “an untruthful statement made to someone else with the intention to deceive.” Wikipedia’s definition of deception is that it is “to intentionally distort the truth in order to mislead others” and states that it is the essence of a lie and has two categories, dissimulation (what?!) and simulation, with subcategories within each. Thanks Wikipedia for your relatively meaningless definitions (I’m glad I can learn about the evolution of lying and yet I can’t find a borderline useful definition of it).

So where would “Digital Deception” fit into all of this? Nyberg visualizes deception as a very broad concept of “showing and hiding” that includes many sub-categories (including lies) and Vrij defines deception as intentionally (whether successfully or not) creating a false belief in another’s head that the sender believes to be untrue. In both cases, deception is used for manipulation and for the sender to get some sort of desired action from the receiver. Also, Burgoon has defined deception as the control or manipulation of information with a motivation to deceive. All of these definitions would be relevant towards the final definition of “Digital Deception” because the definitions were formulated with the use of CMC in mind. Now is it important enough to separate from the definition of Lying or Deception?

I’d say no, because as stated before (in winning fashion, might I add), this digital deception is just “old wine in new bottles” because nothing has principally changed between this new “Digital Deception” and the old deception. For this reason, I would propose that it is included under the definition of deception on Wikipedia (though with a much larger section than most other parts of the page because it still warrants a thorough explanation).

What would the definition of “Digital Deception” say? It would begin by stating how it is not essentially any different from regular deception though it is becoming more prevalent with the use of CMC. I think it would be important to give examples of how it is used (phishing, chatrooms, e-mails, etc.) and why it is successful (Enter: Truth Bias and Overall Lack of Attention to Detail) and the features of the medium that allow it to be that way. It would also include what the main motivations. At the end of the entry, there would be information on how people are doing studies to find a way to detect it (e.g. Hancock studies) and what research is going to be done in the future.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Online Deception Factors: The Offspring of Reduced Non-Verbal Cues

Option 2

The most important difference and subsequent factor in detecting deception online is lack of non-verbal cues. It has been repeatedly shown that non-verbal cues are the most accurate tools in identifying deception—even if they aren’t a silver bullet. Non-verbal behavior is so important to identifying deception because the deceiver in most situations has no control over most of these cues. Thus the cues the deceiver has no control over are aptly called “leakage cues” (Eckman). Despite the fact that many people rely on leakage cues that are not accurate predictors of deception, these leakage cues—accurate or not—are completely eliminated in an online space. Therefore, the person tasked with identifying deception no longer has his most accurate deception tools. CMC effectively acts as a filter for any leakage cues that may be released by the sender.

The lack of non-verbal cues is the major factor in detecting online deception and as such plays a significant role in shaping the importance of other factors in detecting online deception. Motivation is a major influencing factor in detecting deception online. In FtF DePaulo has argued that high motivation impairs nonverbal performance “by reducing control over leakage cues and increasing behavioral rigidity,” but also improves verbal performance. This theory has been coined as the motivational impairment effect, but by viewing CMC as a filter for leakage cues this effect is totally moot online. Therefore, persons online will not be given away by leaking non-verbal cues and at the same time will have a heightened verbal performance. As such, the lack of non-verbal cues allows for motivation to play a serious role in deception detection online because the online environment eliminates the negative effects of motivation and increases the positive effects. Accordingly, in their study, Hancock, Woodworth and Goorha showed that when a deceiver is highly motivated to deceive online the detection accuracy rates go down.

Finally, suspicion obviously plays a role in detecting deception in both FtF environments and on CMC. However, it is unclear how different a role it plays in either environment. George, Marett and Tilley point out that suspicion reduces the truth bias. Accordingly, people may not be as likely to be deceived because they won’t be expecting the truth. This reduction in the truth bias would not lose its effect when interactions moved online away from FtF. However, it may have different results because of the lack of non-verbal cues. If people are more suspicious they are more likely to identify truthful statements as false. They might be more tuned into non-verbal cues and take a funny movement or glance to mean deception when it really doesn’t. Online, people would not even be able to observe non-verbal behavior so they might more accurately scrutinize the verbal message or go too far and mislabel a truthful verbal statement as false. In sum, suspicion clearly plays a role in detecting suspicion, but its effect online is still predominantly influenced by the lack of non-verbal cues.

Assignment 7: Factor Fiction

Option 1

More than any other factor, nonverbal cues have been discussed and researched in terms of their affect on deception detection accuracy. Vrij emphasizes the importance of non-erbal cues in deception detection, arguing that they are central because they are simply more difficult to control than their verbal counterparts. Not only do deceivers, in general, tend to focus more on the content of their deception, thus ignoring their nonverbal behaviors, they are simply not very skilled at suppressing their nonverbal behaviors. Eckman says that deceivers betray their own deception with these “leakage cues,” which include vocal tension and gaze aversion. George et al. describe how important this concept is in terms of digital deception. They argue that in CMC, even if these cues are leaked, the medium acts as a filter, blocking the receiver from perceiving them. Without the nonverbal cues that facilitate deception detection, CMC users are not well equipped to accurately detect deception.

Although this lack of nonverbal cues seems have the greatest affect, many other factors affect detection accuracy online. Hancock et al.’s study shows how important motivation can be in deception detection rates across different media. The researchers found that deception detection was significantly less accurate when the deceiver was highly motivated than when the deceiver was not motivated. According to Hancock et al., if the sender is in fact highly motivated, CMC allows them to carefully craft his or message. CMC allows the sender ample time to plan and edit his or her message. While both the Interpersonal Deception Theory and Motivational Impairment Affect discuss the impact of motivation on deception detection, it is the very nature of CMC that explains why deception detection rates are lower for highly motivated liars. According to Hancock et al., CMC is less instantaneous and less extemporaneous that FtF communication. CMC deceivers create their message before they actually send it and actually have time to construct their deception.

Another factor that affects deception detection is suspicion. While many would argue the importance of suspicion in digital deception detection, I would argue that it is far less important than the two factors mentioned because it is not as unique to CMC. George et al. argue that suspicion reduces truth bias. The researchers found that those who were warned beforehand about deception were better at correctly identifying deception. However, despite these results, they found that even suspicious receivers were not very good at identifying deception. Furthermore, suspicious receivers can be “overly sensitive” and label true statements as deceptive. Clearly, suspicion is not a very important factor in determining digital deception detection. Nonverbal cues and motivation are important, however, because they play off the inherent characteristics of CMC.

Assignment 7: Wikipedia's New Addition -- to deception, that is

Wikipedia's contributions to the world of information have obviously been significant and, for the most part, meaningful. It's an easy to use online encyclopedia that is edited by its users. But, as we all know, Wikipedia's entries are sometimes suspect, incomplete, and poorly written, therefore being inadequate and counterproductive to the purposes of researchers needing important information. It's not the source I use, but it is helpful occasionally. In terms of lying and deception, Wikipedia, as Jeff noted, has a good entry about what a "lie" is, but a very short, and unhelpful entry about "deception."

If I were to contribute the topic of digital deception to Wikipedia, I wouldn't necessarily write a separate entry just for its own sake. I would, however, include it within the deception entry. First, though, due to the current entry's lack of helpfulness and thoroughness, I would have to rewrite and add on to most of the current deception entry. I think Nyberg has the most to say about deception. He posits that deception is a very large and inclusive concept that includes lying as a subset of it. Therefore, something can not be a lie but still be a deception, because lying is a subset of a much larger concept of deception. Nyberg also says that "deception is the shrewd and sober art of 'showing and hiding' which is meant to control what is and is not perceived, assumed or understood." In the Wikipedia entry, I would then outline Nyberg's statements about showing and hiding, and then the eight ways to deceive he offers. There are additional sections that would need to be included in the deception entry on Wikipedia, but I'll move on to digital deception.

As a subset of deception like lying, digital deception would also be a part of the deception entry on Wikipedia. It shouldn't be limited to a small part of the entry, however. Digital deception has a number of implications in our information society that we must not overlook it, nor should someone writing a Wikipedia entry. First, the entry should talk about what the digital part of digital deception actually means. This means, of course, CMC or Computer-Mediated Communication. There are two main theories important to CMC with regards to deception. They are social presence theory and media richness theory. Social presence theory, according to Walther, means that when a person is in the presence of people, there are more cues available to both the sender and receiver, meaning there's a great presence of social interaction -- not as true in a digital environment. Media richness theory posits that different types of media channels feature different levels of richness, which will encourage or motivate someone to use a medium based on its level of richness. The foundations of this theory are the features of a medium or a technology.

Following an adequate discussion of CMC theories and background, I would then talk about deception in the realm of CMC. Though Nyberg and Vrij have been very helpful to us with regards to understanding deception on a wider scale, I think it's important to notice Burgoon's definition of deception. Burgoon et. al (1996) defined deception as the control or manipulation of information with a motivation to deceive. In essence, deception is knowingly done and controlled by the sender. This definition is more communication-based than Nyberg or Vrij's definitions, and I think it's more relevant to digital deception. After understanding the basics of these theories, I would then outline a number of different experiments that tried to examine lying online and the accuracy of most people. Similar to face-to-face detection deception, most people are poor lie detectors. Something we've discussed over and over is the lack of cues present to people online, therefore their ability to detect deception isn't as great. This is important to digital deception and would be discussed.

Overall, I think there's a lot that could be said about digital deception in a Wikipedia entry. I think it's a constantly evolving concept and subject to study and understand.

Wikipedia Version 2.0

Although Wikipedia is sometimes a good source for credible information about a topic, it can be difficult to discern when this is the case. The entries are often scholarly, complete, and accurate, but at times they are poorly written and outdated. The entry for deception is one that needs great improvement, so I have proposed an outline for its contents to be as thorough as possible with a new twist: this entry will be for digital deception specifically. I believe digital deception deserves its own entry because it describes recent cases in deception involving media such as e-mail, and blogs. I believe the entries for deception and digital deception should have similar content, but digital deception deserves an entry of its own.

For the content, a specific definition of deception is necessary as the first component, and I have chosen Vrij’s definition while adding that this deception necessarily occurs in a digital environment. In the opening paragraph, I went on to include a brief overview of the types of behaviors that are considered deceptive as determined by David Nyberg. I briefly mention DePaulo’s finding that lies are a common occurrence and that individuals lie on average twice in one day.

After writing out the opening paragraph, I made a topical outline of the contents of this Wikipedia entry. First, this entry will include explanations of the types of deception proposed by Nyberg and relate them to digital spaces. This will further explain that deception is a broad category of which lying is just one part. The next section will explain the types of media that can be used for deception, such as e-mail and blogs. It is important to show that digital deception applies to specific spaces and to clarify unfamiliar terms such as phishing.

The third section will briefly describe motivations for deceiving, which will explain DePaulo’s finding that lying is a common occurrence. After that, I will explain that, even though deception and lying are extremely common, they are difficult to detect for various reasons. In this section, it is particularly important to emphasize the difficulties of detecting deception in an online environment due to the absence of visual cues.

The Truth Bias is certainly worth mentioning in this entry, and I will briefly explain that people expect others to tell the truth, even though lying is very common. However, DePaulo found that most lies are everyday white lies and are often self-oriented lies meant to protect others. Bigger lies that are carefully planned and constructed are less common, but they can be detrimental to society, relationships, and trust.

In the next section, the features of digital media will be explained; this is important to go before explanations of the theories posited by Carlson et al and Hancock et al. I selected two media theories that relate to the features of media, although I recognize that there are many more. However, for the purposes of Wikipedia which is meant for the general public, including too many theories might turn readers away, so it is important to keep the content interesting and relevant to their lives. Thus, I have selected only two theories of many in the deception literature.

The last few paragraphs in this entry explore the morality of lying and deceiving to recognize religious views and Nyberg’s view as well as recent examples of digital deception. These examples will demonstrate the role of digital deception in modern society and the difficulties of deception detection.

Digital Deception

Digital Deception is “a successful or unsuccessful deliberate attempt, without forewarning, to create in another a belief which the communicator considers to be untrue,” (Vrij, 2000) which necessarily takes place in a digital environment. Digital deception occurs through the use of computer-mediated or technologically-mediated media, such as e-mails, blogs, or text messages. Digital deception includes a wide range of behaviors including but not limited to: lying, disappearing, disguising, mimicking, and counterfeiting, (Nyberg, 1993). Lying specifically is a common behavior; researchers show that individuals lie an average of two times per day, even though they generally trust others to be truthful (DePaulo, 1996).


Comment: Sorry about the spacing!

1. Types of deception in a digital space
a. Lying

b. Hiding

1. Disappear

2. Disguise

3. Distract

c. Showing

1. Mimic

2. Counterfeit

3. Misdirect

2. Media that aid in digital deception

a. E-mails

b. Text messages

c. Blogs

d. Phishing

3. Motivations for deceiving

4. Difficulties of deception detection

a. Absence of nonverbal cues

b. Reliance on text-based media

c. Inconsistency of predictors of deception among individuals

1. Current research

5. The Truth Bias

6. Features of digital media which affect digital deception and its detection

a. Synchronicity

b. Tailorability

c. Distributability

d. Symbol Variety

e. Cue Multiplicity

f. Reprocessability

7. Theories relating to features of media

a. Carlson et. al’s view on media

1. Medium choice is based on a set of properties, including synchronicity, symbol variety, cue multiplicity, tailorability, reprocessability, and rehearsability

b. Hancock et. al- The Feature Based Model

1. The medium for deception will be chosen based on three features: synchronicity, recordability, and distributability

8. Morality of digital deception

a. Complexities of truth telling

b. Religious views

9. Recent examples of digital deception

a. Lonelygirl15’s fabricated video

b. The Andy Kaufman blog hoax

c. Dan Rather’s fabricated documents posted online after the CBS Evening News

10. External Links

A New Deception Direction, Assignment 7, Option 2

After reading the Hancock, Woodworth, and Goorha study, it is clear that there exists an interaction effect between the medium used for communication and the motivation of the deceiver. Specifically, highly motivated liars are more successful in computer mediated communication than face to face. This finding is extremely important and reveals the need for more research into the differences between deception success in CMC and F2F communication. Even before reading the Hancock et al. paper, I theorized that the next avenue for deception research should focus on the manipulation of high and low stakes deception. My notion was confirmed when the paper suggested that the relatively weak motivation manipulation and exclusion of stakes from the experiment was a drawback of the study. I propose that a follow-up study should be conducted which tests the effects of high and low stakes for deceivers in both CMC and F2F communication.

In an experiment, a deceiver may be highly motivated to lie, even though there are no consequences (stakes) if his or her lies are revealed. In the Hancock et al. study, motivation was manipulated by incorrectly stating that being able to deceive others was a “very important skill” and “that the ability to lie to others successfully is a good predictor of success.” This manipulation worked, as subjects in the high motivation category rated that it was significantly more important for them to deceive their interaction partners than the subjects in the low motivation manipulation. However, even though the motivation manipulation was successful, it did not provide a guarantee that being a good liar will necessarily result in positive consequences. Stakes and motivation are similar concepts, but stakes refer to the negative or positive consequences of being caught in a lie or successfully deceiving, respectively. Since there were no direct consequences of deceiving an interaction partner or not, this experiment did not include a manipulation of the stakes for the deceiver.

It is critical to next study the effects of high and low stakes on deception detection in both CMC and F2F communication. Prior research findings support the notion that stakes should play a role in producing an interaction effect between medium and stakes, namely that liars in situations with high stakes will be more successful in CMC than in F2F. Researchers have previously proposed that deceivers in high stakes situations will improve their verbal performance, and the IDT states that deceivers strategically plan their behavior (Burgoon & Floyd, 2000). This combined with the fact that in CMC, communicators have more time than in F2F to respond to queries, can edit and rehearse their responses (Carlson et al., 2004), and can choose to selectively self-present (Walther, 1996) what information they would like to reveal should lead to an interaction effect. Additionally, many non-verbal cues that provide “emotional leakage” in F2F interactions, such as higher voice pitch and frequent pauses are not present in CMC (Vrij, 2000). It follows from the absence of cues that deception detection should be more difficult in CMC, but Hancock et al. did not find a main effect of medium on deception. There must be another factor which, when combined with medium, produces differences in detection. I hypothesize that stakes will be another factor found to produce differences in deception detection across CMC and F2F. Since stakes are related to motivation, similar results should be produced; however, the differences between high and low stakes for CMC and F2F should be even greater than those for motivation differences. This is because high stakes will make subjects believe that there will be direct positive or negative consequences if they succeed. This in turn will exacerbate motivation and lead to greater effort on the part of deceivers. Because deceivers in the CMC arena will not be betrayed by leakage cues, and deceivers operating F2F will be even more nervous that they will be caught in their lies, the differences between deception detection accuracy will increase.

I would propose a study with the same basic format as the Hancock et al. study; however, instead of motivation manipulation, stakes manipulation should occur. This could be accomplished in a variety of ways. One that should provide a successful manipulation of stakes is a situation in which a professor relates to his or her class that final grades will somehow be affected by performance in this study. (In the low stakes trials, this condition would not be presented.) The manipulation provides high stakes because a student’s grade will be affected; however, there is no direct motivation manipulation. The motivation would be produced internally, as a result of the stakes manipulation. By carrying out a study of this nature, more information would be revealed regarding differences in deception and detection between CMC and F2F.