Australian Steve van Aperen has been labelled by media across the globe as the ‘Human Lie Detector’, and with good reason. The former police officer now advises government agencies and corporate bodies on a worldwide scale and is a media regular. He has trained with LAPD, US Secret Service, FBI and has assisted police departments in 79 homicide cases.
There is a case, some would argue, for the ‘great temptation’ being history’s first ever mistruth, the mighty fall of Adam and Eve forever branding our souls with the burden of sin. But for those who favour evolution over creation, the art of deception may well hold even more ancient roots.
A study at Trinity College Dublin discovered deceptive behaviour rife amongst species that regularly engaged in co-operation, with primates being the most notable example. “Ultimately, our ability to convincingly lie to each other may have evolved as a direct result of our cooperative nature,” Luke McNally told ABC, having studied 24 different primate species with his research team. “Of course, deception may have benefits in many spheres of animal behaviour. For instance, mating and aggressive encounters.” It is a trait not limited to primates, with even spiders and bacteria dabbling in deception’s dark
art. “It has even been shown to evolve in robots,” continues McNally. “Our theory suggests that co-operation evolves before deception, but deception will follow hot on its heels.”
While men (politicians, especially), are often portrayed as serial misleaders (though admittedly, politicians usually are), studies have shown that women are the more capable fibbers. The reason is that ladies’ language and communication skills are far more adept. An average woman on an average day
will utter a staggering three times the number of words than that of an average bloke. They also develop more advanced communication skills at a younger age than their (cave!) man counterparts. “Men and women lie in equal measures,” says Steve van Aperen. “What is often interesting is their reason for doing so. A woman is likely to lie to protect or make someone feel better about themselves, whereas men often do it to make themselves look good. Women have more evaluation centres in their brains. Men’s lies are often simplistic – Why are you late? ‘I was caught in traffic’ – whereas women’s more fluent language allows for greater elaboration.”
“In reality, it is very hard for the average person to lie,” van Aperen tells me. “Research also shows human beings are not very good at spotting liars either.” Steve asks me to name my first job but cuts me off before I can answer. While trying to remember, he tells me, my eyes rolled up and to the left; a sign
While men (politicians, especially), are often portrayed as serial misleaders (though admittedly, politicians usually are), studies have shown that women are the more capable fibbers. The reason is that ladies’ language and communication skills are far more adept.
Questions must be direct: “There is no such thing as a bad interviewee, just a bad interviewer.” What is also important is for suspects to like Steve. He tells of a time interrogating a man suspected of abusing a child, with van Aperen’s colleague verbally tearing the man to shreds; threatening him that his life, as he knows it, is over, that his wife will leave, his family will disown him. “My colleague simply gave the man a thousand reasons why he shouldn’t own up,” says Steve. “Later, I calmly said to the suspect, ‘the only thing I want to know is, did you mean to hurt her [the victim]?’ He looked to the floor, slowly shaking his head and whispered ‘no’. I had a partial confession.”
We chat some more and Steve conducts a couple of rather disconcerting psychological observations on yours truly. I ask him if he’s ever able to switch off and he says that he’s learned to in social situations, though he sometimes still can’t resist. He jokes (I hope), that he has few friends left. But those who remain certainly know better than to try to cheat him out on the golf course.
Looking for Steve to present at your next conference or to train your staff on “How to read your customers and Increase profits visit www.stevevanaperen.com