Deception and its Detection

Pronouns used by the subject would be analyzed, noting any changes in them throughout the statement. Specifically the pronoun WE would be of importance in such cases, noting where it entered the statement and where it is missing from the statement. In such a case if the victim uses WE in the statement during the assault, in reference to her and the suspect, this would be a signal of deception. This may be due to a variety of reasons, such as maybe she knows the suspect but doesn’t want to tell us, or maybe she was a willing partner and subsequently had a change of heart, or maybe it didn’t happen. Answers to these questions may be revealed through the complete analysis of her statement. There are many other aspects that would be analyzed for both the Alibi and Specific statement, and there are also advanced principles off statement analysis, which can be utilized to further your investigation and lead you to a successful conclusion. However the purpose of this article is only to bring an awareness of this resource of Statement Analysis to law enforcement, and it is not intended to be a training manual for the analysis of statements.

The Big Picture

Once the analysis of a statement has been completed, we must stand back and view the statement as a whole before making a judgment as to the truthfulness of this information. The statement must “shout” that it is deceptive before we state that it is deceptive. There should be several points within the statement indicating deception is present. The same principle exists with interview and interrogation when we look for “clusters” of deceptive behavior from the person we are interviewing. We would not consider a subject we are interviewing as “deceptive” just because he scratched his nose. However, if he scratched his nose as he was leaning away from you, then crossed his arms and legs, at the same time he broke eye contact with you, this may indicate a problem. This would be especially important if this occurred in response to a “key” question, when the subject did not exhibit such behavior previously.

So it is with Statement Analysis. If we have a statement where there is evidence that the subject jumped over or skipped a period of time, we would not state that this subject is deceptive based solely on that point. The gap in time would be noted and expanded upon in a detailed inquiry into the statement, which is beyond the scope of this article. The reason we would not automatically assume the subject is deceptive because of the one issue, is that no person tells us “everything” that happened, only everything they think is important for us to know. They may leave information out which they believe is not important, or information that they believe is too important for us to know. An example of someone leaving out information that they believe is “unimportant” for us to know, may be an alibi statement, which contains a gap of missing time, and also contains linguistic signals indicating sensitivity in a particular area within the statement. If upon further inquiry, it is revealed that the subject failed to tell us that he had an argument with his wife at this time over dinner, which was not related to the issue at hand, we could safely conclude this subject to be truthful. However since he removed that “link” from the statement there was evidence of that still remaining in the statement. This is referred to as an “outside issue”, which is an area of sensitivity for the subject, but not necessarily related to the crime.

An example of leaving out information that is too important would be a husband reporting that his wife is missing, and he provides the police with an alibi statement detailing his activities for the day. However, there is missing time surrounded by areas of sensitivity, which cannot be justified through further inquiry, and no justification can be found within the statement itself. There may be changes in language, pronouns, or other “red flags” which may indicate deception, and which are not “justified changes” based upon the content of the information. At this point, follow-up inquiry would be conducted.

I believe it is important for us to seek out both the “unimportant” information which the subject failed to disclose, i.e. any “outside issues”, as well as the more sinister aspect of concealment, that being when the subject omits information which he considers to be “too important” to include his statement. By doing so we gain a greater understanding of the subject himself and the issues he presents, thereby further enhancing the analysis process.

However, to bring this point of “clusters” home, if this missing time correlates to the approximate time the crime was committed, this would be significant. If there are linguistic signals of sensitivity surrounding this gap, suspicion of deception increases. If we note “unjustified” changes in language within the statement, again the potential of deception has increased, so on and so forth. The more indicators of deception present within the statement, the more likely it is that it is deceptive. That may sound simplistic, but if we need a microscope to find deception within a statement, then the chances are great that it is truthful.


It is important to state that the intent of this article is not to train individuals in Statement Analysis, but to increase awareness of this valuable resource. I believe that the more knowledge and training we have at our disposal, the greater our chances are of reaching the ultimate goal in any and all criminal investigations, and that is to uncover and document the TRUTH.

Detective Wesley Clark

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