full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Noah Zandan: The language of lying

Unscramble the Blue Letters

"Sorry, my pnohe died." "It's nothing. I'm fine." "These atigaenolls are completely unfounded." "The company was not aware of any wdrooinngg." "I love you." We hear anywhere from 10 to 200 lies a day, and we senpt much of our history coming up with ways to detect them, from medieval torture devices to polygraphs, blood-pressure and breathing monitors, voice-stress analyzers, eye trackers, infrared brain scanners, and even the 400-pound electroencephalogram. But although such tools have worked under certain cuasnmeirctcs, most can be fooled with enough preparation, and none are considered reliable enough to even be admissible in crout. But, what if the problem is not with the techniques, but the udyelirnng assumption that lying spurs pcahigoilyosl changes? What if we took a more direct approach, using communication science to azyalne the lies themselves? On a psychological level, we lie partly to paint a better picture of ourselves, connecting our fantasies to the person we wish we were rather than the person we are. But while our brain is busy dreaming, it's letting plenty of signals slip by. Our conscious mind only controls about 5% of our citingvoe function, icnidlung communication, while the other 95% orcucs beyond our awareness, and according to the literature on reality monitoring, stories based on imagined eepecnrxeis are qualitatively different from those based on real experiences. This suggests that cnaiertg a false story about a personal toipc tkaes work and results in a different pattern of language use. A tolgconehy known as linguistic text analysis has helped to iieftdny four such common patterns in the subconscious language of deception. First, liars reference themselves less, when making dcivtepee statements. They write or talk more about others, often using the third person to discntae and disassociate themselves from their lie, which sounds more false: "Absolutely no party took place at this house," or "I didn't host a party here." Second, lairs tend to be more navgiete, because on a subconscious leevl, they feel guilty about lying. For example, a liar might say something like, "Sorry, my stupid phone battery died. I hate that thing." Third, liars typically explain events in simple terms since our brains struggle to build a complex lie. Judgment and evaluation are complex things for our barnis to compute. As a U.S. President once famously insisted: "I did not have sexual relations with that woamn." And finally, even though liars keep descriptions simple, they tend to use leognr and more convoluted setncnee structure, inserting unreecsasny words and irrelevant but factual sounding ditelas in order to pad the lie. Another President crnofntoed with a scandal proclaimed: "I can say, categorically, that this investigation indicates that no one on the White House staff, no one in this administration pntlesrey employed was involved in this very bizarre incident." Let's apply linguistic analysis to some famous examples. Take seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. When cmoanrpig a 2005 interview, in which he had denied taking performance-enhancing drugs to a 2013 ivrneeitw, in which he admitted it, his use of personal pnorunos increased by nearly 3/4. Note the contrast between the following two quotes. First: "Okay, you know, a guy in a French, in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean-Francis so-and-so, and he ttess it. And then you get a phone call from a neswapepr that says: 'We found you to be positive six times for EPO." Second: "I lost myself in all of that. I'm sure there would be other people that couldn't hadnle it, but I certainly couldn't handle it, and I was used to controlling everything in my life. I controlled every outcome in my life." In his denial, Armstrong described a hypothetical situation focused on someone else, removing himself from the situation entirely. In his admission, he owns his steteatnms, delving into his personal eitnmoos and motivations. But the use of personal pronouns is just one indicator of deception. Let's look at another example from former steaonr and U.S. pertedasiinl candidate John Edwards: "I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to, or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby." Not only is that a pttery long-winded way to say, "The baby isn't mine," but Edwards never calls the other parties by name, instead saying "that baby," "the woman," and "the apparent father." Now let's see what he had to say when later amtinidtg paternity: "I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves." The statement is short and direct, calling the chlid by name and addressing his role in her life. So how can you apply these lie-spotting techniques to your life? First, remember that many of the lies we eontucenr on a daily basis are far less serious that these examples, and may even be harmless. But it's still wiowhhlrte to be aware of telltale clues, like minimal self-references, negative language, spmlie explanations and convoluted prhsnaig. It just might help you avoid an overvalued stock, an ineffective product, or even a terrible relationship.

Open Cloze

"Sorry, my _____ died." "It's nothing. I'm fine." "These ___________ are completely unfounded." "The company was not aware of any __________." "I love you." We hear anywhere from 10 to 200 lies a day, and we _____ much of our history coming up with ways to detect them, from medieval torture devices to polygraphs, blood-pressure and breathing monitors, voice-stress analyzers, eye trackers, infrared brain scanners, and even the 400-pound electroencephalogram. But although such tools have worked under certain _____________, most can be fooled with enough preparation, and none are considered reliable enough to even be admissible in _____. But, what if the problem is not with the techniques, but the __________ assumption that lying spurs _____________ changes? What if we took a more direct approach, using communication science to _______ the lies themselves? On a psychological level, we lie partly to paint a better picture of ourselves, connecting our fantasies to the person we wish we were rather than the person we are. But while our brain is busy dreaming, it's letting plenty of signals slip by. Our conscious mind only controls about 5% of our _________ function, _________ communication, while the other 95% ______ beyond our awareness, and according to the literature on reality monitoring, stories based on imagined ___________ are qualitatively different from those based on real experiences. This suggests that ________ a false story about a personal _____ _____ work and results in a different pattern of language use. A __________ known as linguistic text analysis has helped to ________ four such common patterns in the subconscious language of deception. First, liars reference themselves less, when making _________ statements. They write or talk more about others, often using the third person to ________ and disassociate themselves from their lie, which sounds more false: "Absolutely no party took place at this house," or "I didn't host a party here." Second, _____ tend to be more ________, because on a subconscious _____, they feel guilty about lying. For example, a liar might say something like, "Sorry, my stupid phone battery died. I hate that thing." Third, liars typically explain events in simple terms since our brains struggle to build a complex lie. Judgment and evaluation are complex things for our ______ to compute. As a U.S. President once famously insisted: "I did not have sexual relations with that _____." And finally, even though liars keep descriptions simple, they tend to use ______ and more convoluted ________ structure, inserting ___________ words and irrelevant but factual sounding _______ in order to pad the lie. Another President __________ with a scandal proclaimed: "I can say, categorically, that this investigation indicates that no one on the White House staff, no one in this administration _________ employed was involved in this very bizarre incident." Let's apply linguistic analysis to some famous examples. Take seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. When _________ a 2005 interview, in which he had denied taking performance-enhancing drugs to a 2013 _________, in which he admitted it, his use of personal ________ increased by nearly 3/4. Note the contrast between the following two quotes. First: "Okay, you know, a guy in a French, in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean-Francis so-and-so, and he _____ it. And then you get a phone call from a _________ that says: 'We found you to be positive six times for EPO." Second: "I lost myself in all of that. I'm sure there would be other people that couldn't ______ it, but I certainly couldn't handle it, and I was used to controlling everything in my life. I controlled every outcome in my life." In his denial, Armstrong described a hypothetical situation focused on someone else, removing himself from the situation entirely. In his admission, he owns his __________, delving into his personal ________ and motivations. But the use of personal pronouns is just one indicator of deception. Let's look at another example from former _______ and U.S. ____________ candidate John Edwards: "I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to, or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby." Not only is that a ______ long-winded way to say, "The baby isn't mine," but Edwards never calls the other parties by name, instead saying "that baby," "the woman," and "the apparent father." Now let's see what he had to say when later _________ paternity: "I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves." The statement is short and direct, calling the _____ by name and addressing his role in her life. So how can you apply these lie-spotting techniques to your life? First, remember that many of the lies we _________ on a daily basis are far less serious that these examples, and may even be harmless. But it's still __________ to be aware of telltale clues, like minimal self-references, negative language, ______ explanations and convoluted ________. It just might help you avoid an overvalued stock, an ineffective product, or even a terrible relationship.

Solution

  1. underlying
  2. child
  3. confronted
  4. spent
  5. phone
  6. pronouns
  7. comparing
  8. admitting
  9. analyze
  10. longer
  11. allegations
  12. technology
  13. identify
  14. presidential
  15. presently
  16. sentence
  17. takes
  18. woman
  19. unnecessary
  20. liars
  21. including
  22. handle
  23. simple
  24. circumstances
  25. worthwhile
  26. physiological
  27. encounter
  28. deceptive
  29. senator
  30. creating
  31. tests
  32. statements
  33. phrasing
  34. occurs
  35. experiences
  36. wrongdoing
  37. distance
  38. details
  39. interview
  40. level
  41. emotions
  42. topic
  43. court
  44. negative
  45. newspaper
  46. cognitive
  47. brains
  48. pretty

Original Text

"Sorry, my phone died." "It's nothing. I'm fine." "These allegations are completely unfounded." "The company was not aware of any wrongdoing." "I love you." We hear anywhere from 10 to 200 lies a day, and we spent much of our history coming up with ways to detect them, from medieval torture devices to polygraphs, blood-pressure and breathing monitors, voice-stress analyzers, eye trackers, infrared brain scanners, and even the 400-pound electroencephalogram. But although such tools have worked under certain circumstances, most can be fooled with enough preparation, and none are considered reliable enough to even be admissible in court. But, what if the problem is not with the techniques, but the underlying assumption that lying spurs physiological changes? What if we took a more direct approach, using communication science to analyze the lies themselves? On a psychological level, we lie partly to paint a better picture of ourselves, connecting our fantasies to the person we wish we were rather than the person we are. But while our brain is busy dreaming, it's letting plenty of signals slip by. Our conscious mind only controls about 5% of our cognitive function, including communication, while the other 95% occurs beyond our awareness, and according to the literature on reality monitoring, stories based on imagined experiences are qualitatively different from those based on real experiences. This suggests that creating a false story about a personal topic takes work and results in a different pattern of language use. A technology known as linguistic text analysis has helped to identify four such common patterns in the subconscious language of deception. First, liars reference themselves less, when making deceptive statements. They write or talk more about others, often using the third person to distance and disassociate themselves from their lie, which sounds more false: "Absolutely no party took place at this house," or "I didn't host a party here." Second, liars tend to be more negative, because on a subconscious level, they feel guilty about lying. For example, a liar might say something like, "Sorry, my stupid phone battery died. I hate that thing." Third, liars typically explain events in simple terms since our brains struggle to build a complex lie. Judgment and evaluation are complex things for our brains to compute. As a U.S. President once famously insisted: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." And finally, even though liars keep descriptions simple, they tend to use longer and more convoluted sentence structure, inserting unnecessary words and irrelevant but factual sounding details in order to pad the lie. Another President confronted with a scandal proclaimed: "I can say, categorically, that this investigation indicates that no one on the White House staff, no one in this administration presently employed was involved in this very bizarre incident." Let's apply linguistic analysis to some famous examples. Take seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. When comparing a 2005 interview, in which he had denied taking performance-enhancing drugs to a 2013 interview, in which he admitted it, his use of personal pronouns increased by nearly 3/4. Note the contrast between the following two quotes. First: "Okay, you know, a guy in a French, in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean-Francis so-and-so, and he tests it. And then you get a phone call from a newspaper that says: 'We found you to be positive six times for EPO." Second: "I lost myself in all of that. I'm sure there would be other people that couldn't handle it, but I certainly couldn't handle it, and I was used to controlling everything in my life. I controlled every outcome in my life." In his denial, Armstrong described a hypothetical situation focused on someone else, removing himself from the situation entirely. In his admission, he owns his statements, delving into his personal emotions and motivations. But the use of personal pronouns is just one indicator of deception. Let's look at another example from former Senator and U.S. Presidential candidate John Edwards: "I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to, or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby." Not only is that a pretty long-winded way to say, "The baby isn't mine," but Edwards never calls the other parties by name, instead saying "that baby," "the woman," and "the apparent father." Now let's see what he had to say when later admitting paternity: "I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves." The statement is short and direct, calling the child by name and addressing his role in her life. So how can you apply these lie-spotting techniques to your life? First, remember that many of the lies we encounter on a daily basis are far less serious that these examples, and may even be harmless. But it's still worthwhile to be aware of telltale clues, like minimal self-references, negative language, simple explanations and convoluted phrasing. It just might help you avoid an overvalued stock, an ineffective product, or even a terrible relationship.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
personal pronouns 2
apparent father 2

Important Words

  1. activity
  2. addressing
  3. administration
  4. admissible
  5. admission
  6. admitted
  7. admitting
  8. agreed
  9. allegations
  10. analysis
  11. analyze
  12. analyzers
  13. apparent
  14. apply
  15. approach
  16. armstrong
  17. assumption
  18. avoid
  19. aware
  20. awareness
  21. baby
  22. based
  23. basis
  24. battery
  25. bizarre
  26. brain
  27. brains
  28. breathing
  29. build
  30. busy
  31. call
  32. calling
  33. calls
  34. candidate
  35. categorically
  36. child
  37. circumstances
  38. clues
  39. cognitive
  40. coming
  41. common
  42. communication
  43. company
  44. comparing
  45. completely
  46. complex
  47. compute
  48. confronted
  49. connecting
  50. conscious
  51. considered
  52. contrast
  53. controlled
  54. controlling
  55. controls
  56. convoluted
  57. court
  58. creating
  59. daily
  60. day
  61. de
  62. deception
  63. deceptive
  64. delving
  65. denial
  66. denied
  67. description
  68. descriptions
  69. deserves
  70. details
  71. detect
  72. devices
  73. died
  74. direct
  75. disassociate
  76. distance
  77. dreaming
  78. drugs
  79. edwards
  80. electroencephalogram
  81. emotions
  82. employed
  83. encounter
  84. engaged
  85. epo
  86. evaluation
  87. events
  88. examples
  89. experiences
  90. explain
  91. explanations
  92. eye
  93. factual
  94. false
  95. famous
  96. famously
  97. fantasies
  98. father
  99. feel
  100. finally
  101. fine
  102. focused
  103. fooled
  104. france
  105. french
  106. function
  107. guilty
  108. guy
  109. handle
  110. harmless
  111. hate
  112. hear
  113. helped
  114. history
  115. host
  116. house
  117. hypothetical
  118. identify
  119. imagined
  120. incident
  121. including
  122. increased
  123. indicator
  124. ineffective
  125. infrared
  126. inserting
  127. interview
  128. investigation
  129. involved
  130. irrelevant
  131. john
  132. judgment
  133. kind
  134. laboratory
  135. lance
  136. language
  137. letting
  138. level
  139. liar
  140. liars
  141. lie
  142. lies
  143. life
  144. linguistic
  145. literature
  146. longer
  147. lost
  148. love
  149. lying
  150. making
  151. medieval
  152. mind
  153. minimal
  154. monitoring
  155. monitors
  156. motivations
  157. negative
  158. newspaper
  159. note
  160. occurs
  161. opens
  162. order
  163. outcome
  164. overvalued
  165. owns
  166. pad
  167. paint
  168. parisian
  169. parties
  170. partly
  171. party
  172. pattern
  173. patterns
  174. payments
  175. people
  176. person
  177. personal
  178. phone
  179. phrasing
  180. physiological
  181. picture
  182. place
  183. plenty
  184. polygraphs
  185. positive
  186. power
  187. preparation
  188. presently
  189. president
  190. presidential
  191. pretty
  192. problem
  193. product
  194. pronouns
  195. provide
  196. psychological
  197. publicly
  198. qualitatively
  199. quotes
  200. real
  201. reality
  202. reference
  203. relations
  204. relationship
  205. reliable
  206. remember
  207. removing
  208. requested
  209. results
  210. role
  211. sample
  212. scandal
  213. scanners
  214. science
  215. senator
  216. sentence
  217. sexual
  218. short
  219. signals
  220. simple
  221. situation
  222. slip
  223. sounding
  224. sounds
  225. spent
  226. spurs
  227. staff
  228. statement
  229. statements
  230. stock
  231. stories
  232. story
  233. structure
  234. struggle
  235. stupid
  236. subconscious
  237. suggests
  238. support
  239. supported
  240. takes
  241. talk
  242. techniques
  243. technology
  244. telltale
  245. tend
  246. terms
  247. terrible
  248. tests
  249. text
  250. times
  251. tools
  252. topic
  253. torture
  254. tour
  255. trackers
  256. typically
  257. underlying
  258. unfounded
  259. unnecessary
  260. ways
  261. white
  262. winner
  263. woman
  264. words
  265. work
  266. worked
  267. worthwhile
  268. write
  269. wrongdoing