Newsletter Number 21, December 2023
Behavioural Psychology & Body Language Analysis
I have always been an avid people watcher. Specialising in behaviour has been my occupation for the last ten years and undertaking courses in forensic psychology and offender profiling has increased my interest significantly. It seems, then, that a natural progression is to study behavioural psychology and body language analysis.
Having worked with hundreds of children and young people during my career I'm pretty switched on to when they are blatantly lying; the question is why? It's often not simply to get out of being in trouble as there are many reasons for deceiving, evading, falsifying, inventing, misrepresenting or prevaricating representations of 'the truth'.
Perspective is an important element of interpreting fact and young people often have limited experience of convincing lying skills to draw upon - though some manage to become very accomplished at it with particular adults as role models.
I was recently asked by a grandparent if compulsive lying is genetic, as she could see the signs in the six-year-old girl's behaviour that were also prevalent in her daughter-in-law. In this case there is no malice intended or, indeed, any particular gain. It's more an element of 'people pleasing' that has sadly been deeply embedded in her young and turbulent life so far.
It has been theorised that some people may possess genes which cause them to lie more often than others, potentially making them more prone to dishonesty. Additionally, early childhood experiences can also shape a person’s ability to lie later in life. If a child observes negative behaviours such as lying from their parents, they may be more likely to adopt these practices themselves later on.
On the other hand, those who believe that lying is learned typically point out that society plays a large role in teaching children how to lie. They suggest that children learn through observation and mimicry; if they observe adults lying around them regularly, they may develop an understanding of what constitutes a lie and learn how to tell one efficiently. Additionally, children may also be taught by their parents or educators how best to hide their lies and prevent them from being discovered by others.
Ultimately, both arguments have their merits; while people may have certain personality traits or inclinations which make them more predisposed towards lying, this does not necessarily mean it is an innate behaviour. Similarly, just because someone has learned how to effectively deceive does not mean it was something they were born with either – rather, it could simply be something they had picked up through environment and experience over time.
[Jason Hubble, lie detector expert]
Compelling viewing for me includes the work of the crime analysis experts featured on the Discovery+ TV series Faking It.
Dr Cliff Lansley, a Body Language Expert, known as ‘The Watcher’
Dawn Archer, a Professor of Linguistics, dubbed ‘The Listener’ and
Kerry Daynes, a Forensic Psychologist, who is ‘The Profiler’
Their roles include analysis of the minutely detailed observations of the words, actions and motives of notorious individuals who have been involved in high-profile cases of serious crime. The footage used in the series is from police interviews, media coverage and press conferences, where the perpetrator has often been found to be a family member or otherwise closely linked to the victim. The experts identify, unpick and debunk the claims, lies and alibies of the guilty participants in the crimes for which they plead innocence.
Whilst gaining a diploma in Behavioural Psychology and Body Language Analysis will not propel me to the heights of a qualification to contribute to the understanding of serial killers and those who perpetrate serious crimes against children, it will equip me with valuable additional skills for the work I do.
I envisage I will have greater insight where young people are implicated in very violent assaults, criminal activity leading to serious harm or death and recognising traits in the behaviour of those with the potential to commit such acts. However, on a day-to-day basis exploring the possible explanation for the attempt to mask any human behaviours will be intriguing enough. Applying this learning to the conduct of adults in, for example, concerning conduct in the workplace will be of great benefit.
Future work in the pipeline for me is working with large educational settings and corporate organisations in affecting behavioural change. For authenticity and a truly inclusive ethos, such a change must be positive and permanent. A knowledge of the non-verbal behaviours, relationships, communication styles and intent goes a long way to informing the scope for change. Who are the genuine activists, trailblazers and game-changers ... or the bystanders, lip-service payers and tokenistic box-tickers? The water-cooler rather than the boardroom conversations are those more likely to hold the greater truth, so where better to start? It is often that the understanding of the ordinary gives us an insight into the extraordinary.
Having already been nicknamed 'The Behaviour Detective', I look forward to expanding my repertoire within the field of human behaviour and venturing into pastures new alongside my tried and tested methods. It will be interesting to continue drawing parallels with childhood experiences and adult behaviour, previously explored in my August 2023 newsletter: Newsletter 17 | Aluna (aluna-abc.co.uk).