What is Lie to Me?
Lie to Me was a popular American drama series that aired on the Fox TV Network. The show was cancelled almost 10 years ago (!!) in January of 2011 after running for 3 seasons. But despite the fact that almost a decade has passed after its last show aired on network TV, fans have not forgotten Cal Lightman (played by Tim Rooth) and The Lightman Group.
For those not familiar, the Lie to Me was loosely based on Dr. Paul Ekman’s work in the field of microexpressions. However, like any TV show, it must be remembered that Lie to Me was a television drama series where plot lines were fabricated, characters were fictional and the truth was often exaggerated. After all, it is entertainment.
In fact, Humintell previously blogged about the accuracy of the science depicted in the show. While much of the show is “rooted in actual science” much of it is exaggerated and the information should be taken with a grain of salt.
Who is Cal Lightman?
The Lightman Group is headed by Dr. Cal Lightman, a “human lie detector” who spent years working for the FBI before he formed his own company. He and his team are hired to assist in cases where they question people’s honesty. In the show we see Dr. Lightman talk to someone in regular conversation and within a few seconds, be able to tell if they are lying or not.
A misconception one might have from the show is that a company like The Lightman Group actually exists, when in fact, the company that is portrayed on the show does not exist in real life.
While it is true that psychologists can assist corporations and law enforcement groups to determine if someone is being honest, this takes countless hours of research and analysis of video footage.
This is contrary to the false depiction that a psychologist who studies facial expression and nonverbal behavior can know if someone is lying to them from 2 minutes of conversation. The work these psychologists engage in is often tedious; it involves facial coding, establishing a baseline for the person being observed and comparing their nonverbal and verbal actions.
Do Truth Wizards Exist?
Although a company like the Lightman Group does not exist in real life, people like Ria Torres do. Torres, who is a “natural” at detecting deception, is based off of the late Maureen O’Sullivan’s study called the Wizards Project.
Of the 13,000 people that were tested in their deception detection techniques, only 31 were wizards, who were able to tell “whether the person is lying, whether the lie is about an opinion, how someone is feeling or about a theft”.
Want to know what Dr. O’Sullivan’s opinion was about Lie to Me? View our past blog here.
What is the Societal Impact of the Show?
Researchers at Michigan State University led by professor of communication, Timothy Levine, put Lie to Me viewer’s deception skills to the test in a new study entitled “The impact of Lie to Me on viewers’ actual ability to detect deception”.
The study which was published in the Journal of Communication Research, finds watching Lie to Me “increases suspicion of others but that is reduces one’s ability to detect deception”, according to an article written by Tom Jacobs of Miller-McCune.
The study suggests what we have been suggesting all along: that viewers of Lie to Me shouldn’t accept all information that is presented on the show as accurate or think they know more about lie detection without getting formal training.
Where can I watch Lie to Me?
Although the show has been cancelled, episodes are still available to stream via Hulu.