There is a vast amount of research on detecting deception by observing how individuals respond to questions. Both verbal and non-verbal signs have been tested and the research suggests that verbal cues are often quite revealing of whether a person is lying.
When using the cues to detect deception, investigators look for patterns since no one cue is 100% predictive. I read an analysis today that was emailed to me that points out many verbal cues that Lance Armstrong exhibits in his comments regarding Floyd Landis' accusations.
It's common for those who are lying to use phrases or oaths to sound more sincere. Oaths such as: "I swear to God" or "To tell you the truth" are used more often by someone who is deceptive than one who is telling the truth.
One of the most reliable verbal cues that a person is lying is what's known as a weak denial. When I cover this topic in my Fraud Examination class, I show a video of President Clinton being asked about his interactions with Kathleen Willey who was accusing the President of sexual harassment.
The investigator asked President Clinton: "Does it refresh your recollection that you called her and invited her to come to your room that night, Sir?" In response, President Clinton says: "I do not believe that I did that, Sir." This is a classic example of a weak denial and is a very strong cue that the President was lying. In other words, he should know if he invited her to his room and a typical innocent person will offer a strong denial such as: "Of course not! I never invited her to my room!"
A similar verbal cue that a deceptive individual will use is to not clearly deny the allegation but to use other, more ambiguous, phrases that might imply he is denying it. For example, a fraud perpetrator will often say, "I have nothing to hide" instead of "I didn't take the money." Again, this is a form of a weak denial.
In Lance's case, if he's innocent he will be more likely to just say: "I never did any of the things that Floyd is accusing me of." If guilty, he will be more likely to say something like: "I have nothing to hide." Or, "Landis has no proof." Why not just say "I didn't do what he is claiming and I've never used performance enhancing drugs?"
Another verbal cue found in those who are lying is for the person who is guilty to attack the accuser. If the person is innocent, he will be more likely to offer evidence of his or her innocence and not spend time trying to make the accuser look bad.
In the video below, Lance Armstrong responds to the accusations that Floyd Landis made this week. Watch the video below to see if you think Lance's comments reflect weak denials or strong denials. Also, note whether he offers proof of his innocence or attacks Floyd's character instead.