Watch What You Draw

A team of researchers has conducted a study which argues that liars betray their actions through drawing. Aldert Vrij, Sharon Leal, Samantha Mann, Lara Warmelink, Par Anders Granhag, and Ronald P. Fisher had 31 police and military members engage in a “mission to pick up a package from another agent before delivering it somewhere else,” and then draw the scene of the package pick-up. The liars (half of the 31 participants) generally drew a place they’d been to (but not the scene of the pickup) and were much less likely to draw the agent involved in the pickup — 87 percent of liars could be identified on the basis of the agent factor. Liars were also more likely to draw the scene from a bird’s-eye (as opposed to first-person) perspective. “These are high accuracy rates and will be difficult to exceed by any traditional verbal, nonverbal or physiological lie detection tool,” the research team wrote. “In fact, we would certainly expect such tools to fare worse.”[%comments]

Rudiger in Jersey

If the Cops want you to draw something to implicate your guilt, just by default draw pornography.

Yes it confirms you are a degenerate, low brow. But it also lets you off the hook as scum rather than a suspect of a felony or murder.

I wonder what the Freudian psychiatrists would say about the crude pornographic drawings? It would be worth the label just to see their faces. ;)


The results of this study are all well and good, but hardly useful in any meaningful sense.

They only knew the liars were lying, because they knew the truth. Or at best compared those results with others who in a controlled situation were asked to tell the truth...

In a real world situation, you might be able to infer that someone was lying based on drawing a birds eye view image, but thats a stretch if you don't know what actually happened to compare the image to.

Interesting all the same, but rather pointless


I've heard that the police can also tell if a suspect is lying by asking them to recite the relevant series of events *backwards*. When rehearsing a story, most people run through it in order. It is only when you have lived it that you can cleanly answer "what happened just before that".


As an architect, I would probably draw in plan (bird's eye)...


Won't the publication of these findings lower the reliability of this approach? I mean, we may not be able to control our heart rate, sweating, etc., but--knowing about the drawing test--we could easily just add a receiving agent to the picture and make sure it has a ground perspective.


This test would have been great... until it was made public. Now we all know to draw things in first person view.


You should see how shifty Van der Sloot's stick figures look.


It seems to me that the liars were doing absolutely the correct thing. The fewer recognizable persons or objects there are, the less likely are they to be caught out. If I were lying about having met a person, I certainly wouldn't be illustrating that person when drawing the imaginary meeting. After all, the questioner might now that the guy was wearing a hat, or has a particular appearance.


hellooo- MRI?!


One question about the study....

The 'liars' were just a portion of the cohort who had been asked to lie.

What would you do if you were asked to lie about something you knew to be right, with no incentive if you're found out? Now contrast that with lying so that you're not found out about something which you either (a) know to be wrong, or (b) don't know either way.

Is the basis of the experiment actually valid

David Vaughn

33% error rating. And you're not (hopefully) dealing with talented and trained liars - unless you have a bad impression of police. And no pressure nor reward for good performance - the subjects may even be worried about coming across as effective liars. Verdict: as reliable as tossing a coin.