Elizabeth Martin from Advanced Polygraph on how to tell if someone is lying to you
IF YOU’VE got something to hide, you best avoid making eye contact with Elizabeth Martin. She busts liars for a living.
Even her children know to avert their eyes when telling a white lie. When Ms Martin’s son was a teenager, he would instruct his friends to avoid any communication with his mother.
“He used to come home with friends and say, ‘If my mum asks any questions, don’t say anything. Don’t even look at her,’ because he knew I could tell what they were up to,” she told news.com.au
“We have a beautiful teenage girl and we always joke that we’re going to put her future boyfriends through a polygraph test.”
Ms Martin is in the business of “truth verification”. She’s a forensic psychophysiologist and the managing director of Advanced Polygraph, Australia’s biggest polygraph agency.
After 22 years in the US police force, she set up the Advanced Polygraph Corporation in Maryland before moving her business down under. She is now the president of the Forensic Polygraph Association of Australia.
Polygraph tests are classic Hollywood fodder, used to create dramatic effect in shows like Maurie Povich and Homeland. But more and more Australians are paying to test claims made by their employees or loved ones. Advanced Polygraph has seen a 400 per cent increase in clients over the past 12 months.
The test costs between $800 and $2000, depending on the issue. Most of Ms Martin’s clients employ her services to resolve relationship issues or problems within a business. She also has several government clients.
“We might have a couple come in who are about to get married and they want to know if their partner is being honest about their financial situation. We have parents bring their teenagers in to see if they’ve been honest about doing drugs. We’re helping people be honest about their lives and be better people,” she said.
Ms Martin’s most recent client was a large women’s shoe chain. They suspected their employees were stealing cash from the business.
“All of the employees agreed to do the test, except one who tried to back out at the last minute. They were the one who eventually didn’t pass the test,” she said.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
A polygraph is technically not a lie detection machine.
“We tell our clients, ‘This polygraph test is not going to flat-out tell you if the person is lying’,” said Ms Martin. It doesn’t offer an absolute ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. “It is a machine that records the physiological changes in your body which occur when you respond to questions.”
Ms Martin’s “lie detection and truth verification laboratory” is a purpose-built facility monitored with six cameras, which monitor the client from the moment they walk into the office.
She writes an extensive list of questions based around the lies her client believes the subject is telling. The first few questions are usually standard — name, age, address, etc. Then they start to get more confrontational. “If the questions are not worded properly then we are not going to get an accurate result, to get the physiological changes that we need.”
There are three possible results the test can give: ‘deceptive’, ‘non-deceptive’ and ‘inconclusive’.
“We say to the subject, ‘The test has come back saying that you are being deceptive in regards to these issues’. They then either say, ‘Yes, I’ve done it, you’re right’ or they deny it say ‘No, I wasn’t deceptive. I have this other issue that can explain my reaction’”.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF SOMEONE IS LYING?
Ms Martin has spent decades analysing people’s behaviour and can almost always tell when someone is lying.
“The whole basis of lie detection is everyone has a baseline behaviour and a way that they behave normally. I can see how you respond when you’re telling me the truth. But when I ask you something that you don’t want to tell the whole truth about, your whole physiology changes” she said.
“Your breathing changes, your eye blink rate will change, your facial expressions change — we call them micro expressions. There are upper and lower body clues such as breathing or feet and leg positioning and hand gestures.”
The tone and pitch of your voice chances and you can get your tenses confused. “It’s about learning to read clusters of clues,” she said.
Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.Source:Supplied
DO PEOPLE GET SHIFTY WHEN THEY’RE AROUND HER?
Ms Martin says she has learned to switch off her inner lie detector in social situations.
“It’s not like I walk into a group of my friends and start analysing them,” she said. “But our kids hate it. My partner is also a trained polygraph examiner, so our kids get it from both sides.
“It’s always a good conversation starter and then it gives us the opportunity to tell people what it’s really like, because people only know what they’ve seen on TV. It’s not like we walk into a party and pull it out and start testing people though,” she said.IS THERE A WAY TO BEAT THE TEST?
“It hasn’t happened to us, but it can happen,” Ms Martin said. “All we can do is make sure we are the most educated and up to date with all the counter measures out there.”
Some subjects have put thumb tacks in their shoes and sprayed deodorant on their fingers to combat their nervous sweaty hands.
“We make them clean their hands first and take off their shoes and socks,” she said. “I require all of the examiners to keep up with the latest counter measures. All the tips on the internet are written by polygraph testers anyway, so we’re across all of those.”
Groupon Australia is currently offering a deal for a discounted polygraph test consultation with Advanced Polygraph. Visit Groupon for more details.