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Liars may be identifiable through their writings, too

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  • Sam Vaknin author of "Malignant Self-love
    Click on these linkis: The Narcissist as Liar and Con-man http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4951
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 27, 2012
      Click on these linkis:

      The Narcissist as Liar and Con-man



      Liars may be identifiable through their writings, too

      Feb. 13, 2012

      Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and World Science staff

      Much as been said and writ­ten about spot­ting li­ars through their eye
      move­ments and body lan­guage. But through their writ­ing?

      That can be done too: li­ars on In­ter­net dat­ing sites may be
      de­tect­a­ble through their typ­ings al­most two-thirds of the time, new
      re­search sug­gests. The find­ings have come out just in time for Valen­tine's
      Day, as on­line daters are try­ing to avoid po­ten­tial prospects who are
      fudg­ing their his­to­ry, height or oth­er var­iables.

      "We don't have to rely on the li­ars to tell us about their lies. We can
      read their hand­i­work," said re­searcher Catalina Toma of the Uni­vers­ity
      of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son.

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      Work­ing with Jef­frey Han­cock of Cor­nell Uni­vers­ity in New York, Toma
      com­pared the ac­tu­al height, weight and age of 78 on­line daters to their
      pro­file in­forma­t­ion and pho­tos on four match­mak­ing web­sites.

      It turned out that for one thing, the more de­cep­tive a dater's pro­file,
      the less likely the writer was to use the word "I." "Liars do this be­cause
      they want to dis­tance them­selves from their de­cep­tive state­ments," Toma

      Liars of­ten em­ployed nega­t­ion, a flip of lan­guage that would re­state
      "hap­py" as "not sad" or "ex­cit­ing" as "not bor­ing." And the
      fab­ri­ca­tors tended to write shorter self-descriptions in their
      pro­files - a hedge, Toma ex­pects, against weav­ing a more tan­gled web of
      de­cep­tion. "They don't want to say too much," Toma said. "Liars
      ex­pe­ri­ence a lot of cog­ni­tive load. They have a lot to think about.
      They less they write, the few­er un­true things they may have to re­mem­ber
      and sup­port lat­er."

      Liars were al­so care­ful to skirt their own de­cep­tion: for in­stance,
      those who mis­led read­ers about appearance-related fac­tors al­so tended to
      avoid writ­ing much about their looks, choos­ing to spot­light oth­er traits

      The find­ings are pub­lished in the Feb­ru­ary is­sue of the Jour­nal of

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      The toolkit of lan­guage clues gave the re­search­ers a dis­tinct
      ad­van­tage when they re-examined their pool of 78 on­line daters, they
      said. "The more de­cep­tive the self-description, the few­er times you see
      'I,' the more nega­t­ion, the few­er words to­tal - us­ing those
      in­di­ca­tors, we were able to cor­rectly iden­ti­fy the li­ars about 65
      per­cent of the time," Toma re­marked.

      How big of an im­prove­ment is that over an un­trained per­son try­ing to
      spot the li­ars? Quite large, Toma and Han­cock found. A sec­ond part of
      their study re­vealed that un­trained vol­un­teers were quite un­able to
      re­liably spot li­ars in on­line pro­files. "They might as well have flipped
      a coin," Toma said.

      The pair al­so found that four in five on­line pro­files strayed from the
      truth at least a lit­tle. "Al­most everybody lied about some­thing, but the
      mag­ni­tude was of­ten smal­l," Toma said. Weight was the most fre­quent
      trans­gres­sion, with wom­en off by an av­er­age of 8.5 pounds and men by
      1.5. Half lied about their height, and nearly one in five changed their age.

      Stud­y­ing ly­ing through on­line com­mu­nica­t­ion such as dat­ing
      pro­files opens a door on a me­di­um in which the li­ar has more room to
      ma­neu­ver, Toma said. "On­line dat­ing is dif­fer­ent. It's not a
      tra­di­tion­al in­ter­ac­tion," she not­ed. The back-and-forth of an
      in-per­son con­versa­t­ion is mis­sing, giv­ing a li­ar the op­por­tun­ity
      to re­spond at their lei­sure or not at all. And it's ed­ita­ble, so "you
      can write and re­write as many times as you want be­fore you post, and then
      in many cases re­turn and ed­it your­self."

      Toma said the find­ings aren't out of line with what's known about li­ars in
      face-to-face situa­t­ions. "It's not like a de­cep­tive on­line pro­file is
      a new beast, and that helps us apply what we can learn to all man­ners of

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      "Some­day there may be soft­ware to tell you how likely it is that the cute
      per­son whose pro­file you're look­ing at is ly­ing to you, or even that
      some­one is be­ing de­cep­tive in an e-mail," she added. "But that may take
      a while."

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