Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Plausible Stories

Deceptive people tend to use plausible stories to convince others that they are truthful, explain situations, impress others, etc. A plausible story is a story of events that appears to be true but is partially or entirely false. Such a story is based on plausibility rather than facts. Most people conclude to their downfall that if it appears to be true, it is true.

For example, you have a pleasant conversation with a new acquaintance. You tell him or her more about you and he or she tells you more about himself or herself. A very pleasant conversation. You tell him or her that you fear heights. A little later or on a second rendez-vous, this new acquaintance tells you the he or she jumped in parachute 3 years ago. This is a great way to impress someone who fears heights or to tell that he or she is better than you (bragging).

Honest people tend to assume others are honest too. Most of us will never challenge allegations made by others. Showing great interest in a story and asking questions will help to determine whether a story is truthful or deceptive. Unfortunately, some among deceptive people are excellent at thinking-on-their-feet. Politicians are a great example. They are rarely caught off guards.
“Do you have pictures? I'd love to see pictures of you in parachute!”
“I'm so sorry! I was so excited that I forgot to ask for pictures.”
A plausible story is a powerful deceptive technique because most people will not verify the story and its facts. Moreover, many plausible stories are difficult to verify and this makes them more effective in deceiving others. Most honest people believe in “innocent until proven guilty” and expect to have hard evidence before calling someone a liar. Deceptive people know this and use it to their advantage.


  1. In that event, since you get no text to analyze, you can always to validate this theory:

    (Sorry for the english reader, but the link is in french)

    Apparently it works pretty well.. Except for deception MASTERS. hehe

  2. The article is about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), the direction of the eyes and the meaning of each direction.

    NLP is an interesting approach. I have read about it and used many of its techniques, but always with cautions. Contrary to statement analysis, non-verbal behaviour requires a baseline to be established first. NLP also suffers from lack of empirical research.

    Detecting deception is more effective by using multiple approaches (statement analysis, non-verbal communication, investigation, etc.). Read more about it in Detecting Lies and Deceit: Pitfalls and Opportunities by Aldert Vrij.

    I particularly like NLP approach to build rapports. There is an excellent book about it: How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less.

    Law enforcement community uses these approaches on daily basis, including statement analysis. Law enforcement officers will however investigate when a plausible story come up.

    An interesting article on building rapports using NLP is found on FBI website: Using Neuro-Linguistic Programming in the Interview Room (one-page formatted here).