This special blog showcases an interview recently done with Humintell’s own Dr. David Matsumoto.
The online behavior lab, Science of People, asked him to delve into the question of how we can use observational skills to determine other people’s intent and to assess the possibility of deception, as well as his own personal background.
Science of People emphasized Dr. Matsumoto’s recent research finding that microexpressions can be helpful in detecting deception. In fact, we blogged on this just recently! They also walked readers through the universal basic emotions, which is of course a staple for those who follow this blog.
However, Dr. Matsumoto consented to give a little bit more insight into what he means by “observational skills” and into his vision for the future of relevant research.
Specifically, he emphasized that the observational skills necessary for effective deception detection are not just something that we passively or naturally do. Instead, we have to actively try to employ these abilities, thus developing our skills.
Quite simply, he said, “If you want to get better at this skill, observe.”
As an exercise, Dr. Matsumoto suggests counting the number of times the interviewer, Vanessa, gestured with her right hand during the interview. Can you count the final number? The correct answer is revealed at the end of the video!
Or, if you are more ambitious, he recommended watching interviews with politicians and celebrities. When these are off script, you can see how people’s subtle expressions betray their emotions, and you can begin to learn to see those same patterns in everyday conversation.
Of course, there is no one thing that can betray somebody’s emotion. Instead, clusters of nonverbal behavior are incredibly important, albeit understudied. This can include changes in the type or frequency of gestures or in how their speech changes. Not only does this depend on the specific emotional context, but it depends on the individual too.
It is those sorts of behavior clusters that Dr. Matsumoto expressed interest in studying going forward. How do a combination of factors uniquely specify emotional states?
Not only does microexpression research demand that sort of synthesis, but Dr. Matsumoto went further in emphasizing the need for even higher level coordination amongst relevant researchers.
Because this field demands that many individual pieces come together, the current state of study suffers from a “Humpty Dumpty” problem where the disparate findings must be put together. This can be challenging and underlines the need for increased coordination.