Applications of Nonverbal Communication

By Ronald E. Riggio; Robert S. Feldman | Go to book overview

10

Emotional Intelligence and Deception Detection:
Why Most People Can't "Read" Others,
But a Few Can

Maureen O'Sullivan

University of San Francisco

In this chapter we will consider why most people seem impervious to the many nonverbal cues that they could use to understand the thoughts, feelings and intentions of others. Evidence will be offered that there are such cues that can be used to detect deception, as well as some initial findings from a small group of lie detection "wizards" which suggest that at least some people are able to use these cues in understanding others.

Although other research areas (e.g., social cognition, personality assessment) could be surveyed, this review focuses on the relevance of nonverbal cues to detecting deception as a particular example of what is currently called emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995; Salovey & Mayer, 1990), but which has also been referred to as social intelligence (Thorndike, 1920), empathy (Lipps, 1926; Ickes, 1993; Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972), social insight (Chapin, 1942), behavioral intelligence (O'Sullivan & Guilford, 1975), applied intelligence (Sternberg, 1986) or Intra- and Interpersonal intelligence (Gardner, 1993).

It is well known that nonverbal clues are involved in "reading" people as trade books such as "Reading people" (Dimitrius & Mazzarella, 1999) presume. Books with titles like "Never be lied to again" (Lieberman, 1998) and "Conquering Deception" (Nance, 2000) suggest that understanding nonverbal clues involved in deception is as easy and natural as learning to speak your native language. This chapter will demonstrate that this is not true.

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