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How to Verify Details of What Claimants Tell Us - Dr Hugh Koch and Dr Caroline Formby

Review of Article: Exploiting liars’ verbal strategies by examining the verifiability of details – Nahari G, Vrij A and Fisher R P – Legal and Criminological Psychology (2014) 19, 227 – 239

Lawyers and experts alike have the challenging task of obtaining and reviewing details of what claimants allege has occurred and how this has affected them, physically, psychologically, socially and occupationally. A small number of claimants are unfortunately ‘expedient with the truth’.

Nahari et al (2014) examined the hypothesis that liars will report their activities ‘strategically’ and, if possible, avoid mentioning details that can be subsequently verified.

They found that in an experimental situation, liars, compared with truth tellers, included fewer details that could be verified. Truth tellers included more perceptual, spatial and temporal details that could be verified in their statements than liars. This enabled the truth tellers to be more correctly classified, both in terms of their verifiable content and also higher ratio of verifiable to unverifiable details.

It is concluded that it is difficult for liars to generate details when lying, even if they could not be verified anyway.

This is consistent with other research in this area of lie detection and an approach called ‘strategic use of evidence (SUE)’ (Clemens et al 2010).

The applicability of this approach to medico-legal interviewing is worth consideration and will be the subject of further reports in this journal.

Dr Koch regularly holds clinics in London, Bristol,
Birmingham, Cardiff and Cheltenham.
Dr Caroline Formby regularly holds clinics
in West Bromwich and Solihull.
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