Eye contact and deception, as seen on TV


On an episode of Dateline NBC, Chris Hansen is interviewing a male subject that has arrived to meet a 15-year-old girl. Chris asks the subject the age of the girl he is there to meet.

The subject maintains eye contact and answers, “Rather young.”

Chris repeats the answer (“rather young”) and asks, “As in...?”

The subject glances away to think and returns to direct eye contact as he says “15 or 16.”

Chris states matter-of-factly, “15.”

The subject continues to maintain direct eye contact.

Chris asks the subject, “How old are you?”

Maintaining direct eye contact, the subject answers “30.”

Chris asks, “And it’s okay for a 30-year-old man to come to a home where a 15- year-old girl is home alone…why?”

Maintaining direct eye contact, the subject answers, “No, it’s not okay.”

During the online chat with the girl, the subject said he would bring condoms and marijuana.

Chris asks the subject “Did you bring condoms with you?”

The subject breaks eye contact by looking down at the instant he answers “No.”

He then immediately reestablishes direct eye contact.

Chris asks, “Not in your car?”

The subject looks down at the table, breaking eye contact again and says, “No.”

He then reestablishes eye contact.

Chris asks the subject if he brought marijuana. The subject glances down as he says “no” and regains eye contact.

Chris asks again “Are you sure?”

Again, the subject looks down as he says “no” and again after answering no, he immediately reestablishes eye contact.

After the interview, the subject is arrested. In a search incident to arrest, the police find a small bag of marijuana and a box of condoms in his pocket.

In this exchange, the average person would not notice the eye contact and the timing of the breaks in eye contact.

Once you began to look for these breaks, it is very clear what is going on. 

About the author

John Bowden is the founder and director of Applied Police Training and Certification (APTAC). John retired from the Orlando Police Department as a Master Police Officer In 1994. His career spans a period of 21 years in law enforcement overlapping 25 years of law enforcement instruction. His total of more than 37 years of experience includes all aspects of law enforcement to include: uniform crime scene technician, patrol operations, investigations, undercover operations, planning and research for departmental development, academy coordinator, field training officer, and field training supervisor. As the director of APTAC, John is responsible for coordinating operations and conducting training for law enforcement organizations across the United States. APTAC clients include law enforcement agencies, state police academies, sheriff departments, correctional institutions, military law enforcement, as well as colleges and universities across the United States. John has written numerous books, including Report Writing for Law Enforcement & Corrections, Management Techniques for Criminal Justice, Today's Field Training Officer, and others. Contact John Bowden

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