Narcissists have double standards

Cahiers d'Études Germaniques

1The lie is man's calling card. Men lie more often than women, women lie differently than men, in different cultures and religions there are different motives and constructions of lies and over the centuries the customs around lying have changed, whereby all conceivable manners still occur worldwide today: in some parts of the world women are stoned and murdered when they lie about certain questions, in other countries one would be surprised if people are sincere in specific contexts. Worldwide the lie is the "Corporate identity“Specific professional activities, especially in politics, banks, religious communities and the advertising industry. As part of the everyday repertoire of communication, it hides in any charming flattery or appears mean and destructive. The following chapter deals with the motive threads, the constructions and dangers of lying as well as with the attempts to recognize the lie with certainty and to convict liars.

2In every country in Europe public debates about truth and lies take place, which sometimes produce bizarre linguistic structures. The German short-term Federal President Wulff, for example, created the following formulation: "I did not lie in this context, I only told half the truth."

3Whether in the context of Nixon's Watergate affair, Strauss-Kahn's completely different affair in New York, of Boris Becker's experience in a laundry room, or of Clinton's petting in the oval office, everything is a lesson in the general grammar of lies.

4Literature searches in the large scientific databases lead to an unmanageable number of original psychological papers on the subject. The present article is not a systematic or complete literature review, but a subjective selection of some interesting aspects.

5The definition contains three characteristics, without which an unmanageable lack of boundaries of the topic would arise. A definition of "truth" is not attempted here, although the terms lie and truth form an inseparable unit. The concept of truth is left to philosophy.1 With the establishment of three defining features, a considerable part of the psychological literature is deliberately excluded, because otherwise the concept could no longer be operationalized.

6The lie is behavior with the following characteristics:

  1. It will consciously and knowingly untrue connections postulated. The condition of conscious decision means that the agent always has the option of choosing between truth and lie.

  2. For sender and recipient there is a relevant, clearly identifiable difference between (objectively) comprehensible facts and their presentation by the liar.

  3. It is crucial that the recipient of the lie (the victim) does not receive any prior notice from the liar and also no clear agreement has given 2

7For clarification, some delimitations are helpful:

  1. A person with one hallucinatory psychosis So do not lie when he utters things that do not correspond to the truth.

  2. A pathological impostor must be viewed as a liar. He is subject to a pathological, often impossible or very difficult to control urge to forcefully present and develop his self-portrayal. Nevertheless, he knows in detail that his stories are made up and massive. He is therefore aware of the lie and therefore liable to punishment, because his actions can be consciously and in principle influenced (e.g. through learnable distancing techniques, regular psychotherapy and / or medication).

  3. Just as little is the magician a notorious liar if he dupes his audience time and again, any more than an actor if he just pretends to hate and sad without feeling it. The wooing as well as many declarations of love are at least partial lies. However, they are not marked as such because they release happiness hormones in the “victim”.

8The lack of space in the present context allows only a few brief comments. Those passages in which Freud deals with lies have a specific logic of argumentation: They are characterized by the fact that they work out above all the unconscious part of lying and here especially the meaning of sexual impulses. Impressive, albeit brief, comments on lies can be found in a few places. A Jewish joke reproduced by Freud should be mentioned (which is really difficult to understand) .3 There are also comments in the work The future of an illusion, in which he deals with cultural norms and prohibitions and their regular disregard.4 In two case studies of lying children5 the question is discussed why children lie chronically and sometimes self-harmingly and which unconscious developmental conflicts are hidden behind them.6 Freud goes so far as to that he formulates that the unconscious itself can also lie (which then excludes a conscious decision, which is the core of the definition presented here).

9Since lying is a central behavioral characteristic of interpersonal relationships, the tools of the trade for lying are part of the basic equipment and must be trained in early childhood.7 The psychological paradox is: Although the lie is commonplace, it is classified as morally reprehensible in all cultures. This implies inevitable intrapsychic conflict. It can be assumed that the negative evaluation has the purpose of civilization to curb the lying a little.

In terms of the history of science, it is interesting that a corresponding chapter is regularly missing in the corresponding textbooks on psychology. In the sub-discipline of “general psychology”, which is home to language, thinking, learning and behavior, a chapter on lies would be expected in the everyday occurrence of the phenomenon. And another remarkable characteristic of psychological research on lies deserves to be highlighted: The main interest is not the origin and intrapsychic dynamics of the lie, 8 but rather its detection and detection (body language, lie detector, etc. see below).

11The double standards described above are impressively demonstrated by the fact that psychological research suggests that those people who are judged by others to be honest, authentic and open - that is, little lying - enjoy a special social reputation. Not lying is one of the most socially valued qualities.

At its core (detached from the concrete context, so to speak), lying is the manipulation of the other person (without the latter noticing it) with the aim of gaining an advantage from it. And (very important): The benefit achieved should not be paid in full. The effort of lying is therefore estimated to be less than the effort of being open. Lies and deception appear to the lying person to be an "inexpensive" take of advantage.

13Since lying, despite its everyday nature, is viewed as morally reprehensible and since the uncovering of a lie is associated with a great deal of hardship, it can be concluded that every lie, as an intrapsychic process, is associated with an energetically complex process that costs time and attention. Lying is stress, and stress triggers a variety of physical reactions. And at the same time - with halfway successful socialization - internal conflicts and an individually different amount of guilt feelings are always bought with it. The individual price of the lie is calculated from the specific personality structure.

It should be noted that lying costs the brain energy and time (it blocks other processes in the brain) and triggers numerous physical reactions. It requires a complicated weighing of interests and - if one does not want to risk an overly quick or easy transfer - a considerable social intelligence is required: one must have the ability to analyze the social context in a differentiated manner, one must be able to adopt perspectives in order to calculate in advance how the recipient of the lie experiences and evaluates the situation. Furthermore, considerable memory is required because inquiries from the victim or third parties are to be expected and contradictions must be avoided as far as possible, since they are always the beginning of the discovery. In addition, and this is the most difficult part of the process, a great deal of effort has to be made so that one does not betray oneself during the act of lying through inappropriate tone of voice, speech pauses or inadequate facial expressions, gestures and posture.

The outlined intrapsychic conflict naturally depicts social norms and is socially contextualized in a complex but contradictory way. In school, children learn that sincerity is expected and that violations are detrimental, while at the same time every news broadcast documents the most serious lies without consequences. A socially highly respected institution has celebrated the double standard for centuries: namely, the institution that morally castigates the lie and goes to great lengths in socialization to brand the lie as reprehensible, is at the same time the one that has made virtuoso use of the lie from the start . The Catholic Church has routinely used this social strategy (double standards) for thousands of years. Example: She operated counseling centers for unwanted pregnant women in Germany for many years and certified them that she was visiting, but officially said that this certificate was not a certificate in the true sense of the law, although it was recognized as such by the state: the Schein-Schein was invented ( "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"). And even more ingenious: it castigates lies and at the same time provides the lying people with a ritual that minimizes internal conflict: confession. So you can lie in front of God and get a lighter conscience through repentance, that is, super-ego relief.

In this context, it is important to emphasize the enormously destructive power of lying. As common as the lie may be, it can have a dramatically destructive side in certain contexts: Certain lies in specific contexts can destroy people, drive them to suicide and, for the rest of their lives, create trust in oneself, in one's own perception and in oneself Take the anticipability of life. Lies can destroy other people and the lying person usually has the ability to anticipate this. Lies can be a massive aggression and cause irreparable damage, both in the personal as well as in the social environment.

The complexity and diversity of the motivational backgrounds of lying mean that various attempts at classification have been made in the literature. The motive strands are often divided into three categories: sender-related, recipient-related and relationship-related motifs. This comprehensible classification has the disadvantage of considerable overlap. Thus, of course, sender-related motive strands can never be understood independently of social integration, so they are always recipient and relationship-related.

In the following, the following systematisation is carried out: first, the lying motive of gaining and maintaining power, then the motive strands resulting from the inner psychic balance and finally the predominantly relationship-regulating lies are presented.

The motive of gaining and maintaining power

From the perspective of human history, this is certainly the oldest motif structure. Although the question of awareness cannot be answered, behavioral research can show that cleverly designed deception maneuvers already occur in the regulation of the group structure of chimpanzees.

20 Social power, a hierarchical position, financial advantage and a desire to compete are certainly the most common and most common motives for deceiving and lying. There are hardly any barriers or inhibitions here. Even the discovery of lies and fraud is only in rare cases really disadvantageous for the broadcaster (it is often enough to go underground for a few months or accept a substantial fine; cf. Franz Josef Strauss or Guttenberg in Germany). Politics has its own laws: Sometimes it is possible to live long and well or to rule with obvious lies. However, every now and then specific interests lead to the fact that the uncovering of basically known lies suddenly lead to a scandal or to resignation.

On the other hand: Our society is shaped by central ideological constructions of lies that fundamentally and constitutively determine our political system and which naturally have individual impacts as a result. This includes lies, such as the word "social market economy" or "equal educational opportunities".

Just as the power lie is a constitutive element in the social power context, it is also one of the most widespread behavioral strategies in the interpersonal area: From kindergarten to retirement home, the lie is used to regulate social hierarchies and with regard to access to relevant advantages: Denigration, real and mental theft, file manipulation and bullying are some examples.

23We try with great effort to convey to children and young people that it is not okay if you knock someone else's teeth out or pull a chair leg over their skull if you want to get something done. We educate for affect control, for social dialogue and for discourse in the sense of Habermas, while at the same time presidents of states use lies to gain access to other territories and cover entire peoples and continents with war. It almost always turns out that the reasons published were based on deliberate fraud, which in general has no consequence.

The lie in the service of narcissistic balance regulation

Since not lying is a great good, it is considered a normative ideal. Intrapsychically, this means that the liar has to weigh up his or her self-image balance: The constant comparison between real me, ideal me and wish-me (namely: how do I want others to see me) not only requires time and energy , but also difficult (because conflicting) decisions, i.e. in the broadest sense a weighing of interests. The internalization of psychological control mechanisms of behavior patterns (previously brought about by external control and coercion), as described by Foucault, is increasingly important today. In other words: the decision as to whether one should lie in a specific case is not based solely on the question of how it would affect socially (i.e. how others judged me, it would be revealed), but also on the question of how the inner balance would be affected (so what my picture of me would look like).

25The specific inner balance (or imbalance) of a person is therefore an essential motor (or brake) of deception and lies. We are not talking about narcissism as a clinical symptomatology, but rather about narcissism as a personality-specific property of the balance between self-confidence and self-satisfaction on the one hand and lack of self-confidence and feelings of inferiority on the other. The motives and forms of deception and lies are clearly different at both poles.

If the lie serves the narcissistic megalomania, it is motivated by the fact that the lying wants to elevate himself even further, want to put himself above others and want to achieve further highlights. Not infrequently it also plays a role that not only something is achieved, but that you also feel great because you are able to manipulate other people successfully without them noticing. It is therefore a narcissistic victory over the unsuspecting lied to people that serves to regulate itself. The admiration, the shining eyes of the other person and the brief moment of superiority motivate appropriate actions (since happiness hormones are released, one can also speak of non-substance-related addictive behavior). There are harmless and transparent stagings of everyday life, but also large catastrophic and disastrous stagings that cause considerable damage and can be quite ruinous. At both ends of the narcissistic dimension, the psychic stability of the lying is not particularly great and therefore the risk of exposure is great. Narcissists of both types generally lie badly because - as the word says - they are too self-reliant and therefore the perspective is insufficient. So they often suffer the shame of exposure and their dilemma is magnified and the gain of the lie is sparse and all too short-term (which in turn, compensatory, so to speak, triggers the next "narcissistic show").

27 An example of an intrapsychic conflict on the level of the unstable self-image at the other pole of narcissistic regulation should clarify the following constellation: A person with a rigid, strict and unyielding super-ego has, from experience, formed this through concrete circumstances and people. 9 One would assume that He (must) avoid lying in any case in order to avoid the inevitable inner self-image conflict. So far the case would be simple and clear: Our good person leads a largely impeccable life.

28But our psyche is full of ambivalence, conflicts are seldom to be pacified, they return and stage themselves unconsciously: our good person is very likely to have a serious internal conflict of autonomy. One day you have to break away from your parents. The stricter the superego, the more problematic this becomes. And so many psychological apparatus stumble here and the lie appears to be a promising instrument for gaining more inner space, so the lie sometimes promises freedom and autonomy: The inner dialogue goes something like this: "If you put me in such a situation ( I am a victim), then that is degrading and when I lie, I keep my pride and self-respect and I therefore do not submit ”.

As life is like, everything goes wrong and ends worse than it was at the beginning: The lie is exposed, the shame and shame are particularly great and the hoped-for autonomy ends on the contrary, namely in the even greater inner bondage. As is well known, the unconscious returns, it is always looking for new re-enactments in the hope of finding a favorable way out one day, and things usually end in disaster.

The lie of life

30Psychologically particularly interesting and taken up again and again by artists is the lie of life, which is also very strongly motivated by inner states of experience. It is psychologically interesting because it is a borderline case of lying. In individual cases it cannot be precisely defined whether the lying person is actually aware, in the sense of a conscious, comprehensible decision, that he is lying to himself. An interesting example is, for example, the sexual orientation of a person who marries someone of the opposite sex in order not to admit that he is homosexual. There are many constructions in which people basically try for life to fool themselves and it often remains completely open how much awareness and how much decision-making ability is behind it. The life lie almost always has tragic sides and in the psychological sense it is usually a denial. Denial would then be understood as a defense mechanism that, by definition, is not used consciously, but which is always very close to the edge of the ability to become conscious. In this respect, it seems justified to integrate the lie of life into the present context (with reservations).

Lies to regulate social relationships

31 Here the relationship structure between sender and recipient, i.e. also the interaction, plays a central role. A distinction must be made between the following forms: everyday lies, comfort lies, white lies and finally infidelity in the partnership.

Everyday lies

This is understood to mean lies that are so commonplace that they can actually no longer be described as lies, because the person being lied to also basically expects them and may implicitly consent to the ritual. From empirical research we know quite a bit about the frequency, the gender-specific distribution and the evaluation of behavior.10 Very simple examples are for example: A person calls and you express joy and gratitude about the call, for example according to the motto: "Oh how nice, that you call! ”At the same time, however, the call comes in an inconvenient way, you actually don't have the time or inclination to take it. The same applies if you meet someone on the street and say: “Oh, we'd have to go for a coffee again” or “You look great” or something similar. These are everyday formulations that (can) contain a lie implicitly, but which are civilizationally permitted and conventionally required.

The lie for convenience and to maintain a relationship

A not uncommon, even everyday, motive for lying is the wish to save oneself from hardship and effort. The motive is to make the relationship between sender and recipient uncomplicated and free from interference (possibly also in order not to destabilize a business relationship). In many cases, a little lie simplifies communication and avoids inquiries, objections or intrusiveness. Depending on the educational principles to which one was subject, one learns that in many cases it makes sense to sail under the radar system of other people and to use all the tricks of representation and silence for this. In a narcissistic sense, this can go so far as to hide successes and abilities in order not to be envied or dispossessed by others.

This also includes a complicated and usually painful art of supporting lying: namely the ability to grasp the narcissistic equilibrium of the other person and to adjust to it in a playful way and, so to speak, to influence the narcissistic balance of the other person in such a way that the greatest possible stability prevails (supporting the other) . This is a maneuver that is very common between children and parents, but also between spouses. This behavior belongs to the lie, because in general you also know very well that you are now manipulating, praising and calming the other, flattering or distracting them. (In this case one can hardly speak of a lie with children).

The white lie

The white lie is probably the only lie that is undisputedly morally high.

36It is always connected with the fact that one is doing something good (at least wanting to do) another person by lying. For example, at the bedside of a patient who is struggling with life in the intensive care unit, you wonder whether you want to tell him that a good friend of his has just died. If one chooses not to say this, it is a lie. However, this is a contextualization that appears to be acceptable in terms of civilization and from which one can assume that the other person will forgive it in retrospect. Such white lies are quite common in everyday life, but they enjoy the protection of moral justifiability, which in individual cases can of course always be highly dubious and also associated with a lot of suffering.

Lies in partnership

From a psychological point of view, the lies that arise in the context of partnerships, especially those to cover up infidelity, are likely to be particularly significant. According to the German sociologists Beck and Beck-Gernsheim11, the importance of partnership today has intrapsychically the rank of religion. In this respect, the lie in the partnership is often one of the most severe individual burdens and crises.

Lies within the partnership have many levels, but sexual infidelity is probably the central issue. There are an infinite number of forms and variants that would go beyond the scope of this article to discuss. In any case, the lie about infidelity is very common (30 to 40% of all people in a stable partnership sleep with other partners at some point). The underlying psychological motives are diverse: revenge, boredom, narcissistic balance problems, fear of attachment, midlife crisis, drive pressure, etc.

Other special varieties of lies

The following lie constructions must be mentioned as borderline cases:

  • This is how one speaks, for example, of the incorrigible or notorious liar: this is a chronic, compulsive behavior that is almost impossible to control by the person. One cannot speak of a real lie here, because it is mostly serious psychiatric illnesses that emerge here.

40 Further examples illustrate the borderline situations:

  • People who injure themselves or create disease-like conditions with substances (Münchhausen syndrome) and who keep silent about their own actions in the medical system.

  • The same applies to people who do this not for themselves but for their children (Münchhausen with proxy syndrome). Here the act of damage is well known and must be secured with the help of evidence (hidden cameras). The children need to be protected and in some countries punishment occurs because awareness is rightly accepted.

  • After all, there are people who do the same thing, but in a deeply religious context, who inflict stigmatization12 on themselves and who are often in borderline mental states. In these cases, it is true that actions are in principle capable of consciousness, but they often take place in a state of deep dissociation or in the context of severe psycho-pathological, i.e. psychiatric, disorders. They contain material capable of consciousness, but are accompanied by such massive perceptual disturbances in the individual context that they can no longer be called a lie in the true sense of the word. They are therefore not liable to prosecution.

41Widespread lying techniques will now be characterized and their different risk assessed.

Leaving out and distracting

The omission as an attempt not to let certain facts come to light or only partially to light, is psycho-economically certainly the "cheapest" variant of the lie.13 The distraction from a topic, the introduction of alternative topics or the attempt to through actions and targeted attention (ab ) Getting away from the facts is also not too psychologically complex and unproblematic for the experienced.

You don't have to invent anything with these techniques, you don't have to “tell” (untrue) stories, you can't get entangled in (verifiable) contradictions and there is always a correction gap by - when things get tight - with small portions of subsequent submissions. Omitting them also requires little effort in terms of modulating body language and suppressing emotions, although signals can also be sent here that experienced observers can use as clues.

Exaggeration or understatement

The exaggeration or the understatement is much more complex psycho-economically. Here facts and feelings either have to be played out or feelings have to be suppressed. Both are prone to error, because not even good actors have complete voluntary access to the complex muscular patterns. This means that the risk of detection is great. However, there are ways out and (halfway) honorable exits, because it is ultimately not possible to provide conclusive evidence of deliberate lying, since under- or overdoing is more likely to be classified as an emotional error that is not as morally reprehensible as the " smooth “lie.

Inventing and falsifying

45Invention and falsification are among the riskiest deception maneuvers. If you are not really hardened and practiced (like politicians, for example, because of their long journey to power), then inventing requires a great deal of psychological effort. The story has to be consistent and free of contradictions, it has to fit the ascertainable facts, it has to take into account motives and concerns and one has to memorize all the details told very carefully so as not to immediately create telltale inconsistencies. All of this requires great effort, maximum concentration and is also dangerous because the smallest details can help unmask. The risk of detection remains high for years and decades because every detail can make the story suspect lies. A very common technique is: Establishing routine processes over a long period of time in everyday life until they are no longer questioned. Then these routines can be used as placeholders (e.g. for extramarital relationships).

Forgetting Assertion

A very popular technique is claiming to have forgotten something. This technique is very promising in some areas and is very common among politicians. For example, you can always claim that you did not know something and you can even attempt a rescue if there is evidence to the contrary (e.g. a signature on a memo, etc.). You then have to take responsibility, but you can still try to save your honor, because you were completely overloaded and overwhelmed and had to sign so many things every day that such mistakes could "easily" come about.

The very brief description of the motive strands, the mechanisms and contextualizations of lying shows that it is a behavior that occurs in every area of ​​life and that it is therefore extraordinarily diverse. Basically, the lie is a joker of social behavior, which can be used specifically and individually colored in every emotional situation, in all conceivable conflict constellations and in all social contexts. Perhaps this is why there is no psychological textbook on lies.

48 The first ideas about a so-called lie detector come from C. G. Jung14 and M. Wertheimer15. A realization was achieved with the construction of the first polygraph around 1935.

To this day, the body of scientific literature on this topic is extraordinarily large and almost unmanageable.16 The sciences that deal with it are numerous, above all psychophysiology, law and military science. All of them have completely different interests and questions about the polygraph.

What is the logic of the polygraph?

The psychophysiological research question has been the following for many decades: Since complex emotional and cognitive processes are involved in the behavior of lying and physical stress reactions of the autonomic nervous system (which cannot be deliberately influenced) are measurable, it should be possible to use these parameters to make statements as true or differentiate falsely.

Based on this assumption, a whole series of psychophysiological parameters has been scientifically tested: skin resistance, pulse, heart rate variability, skin temperature, muscle tone, blood pressure and breathing. Today measurements by means of MRI are increasingly being used.17 The research methods and interrogation techniques are very sophisticated and complex.

52The result of all ’of these studies has so far been very contradictory: There are only a few absolutely specific autonomous reaction patterns that can always be reliably linked to the same emotions. All in all, the autonomic functions are more generalized and uniform in the sense of the activation axis of flight versus fight or sympathetic versus parasympathetic. Since the behavior pattern lying primarily triggers a physical stress reaction, the interpretation of the measurements is always uncertain.

Example of a common logic of argumentation: It is assumed that a person who tells the truth has less brain effort to perform than a person who lies. Lying requires more energy, more neural processes and the involvement of more brain regions and therefore takes longer. This hypothesis leads to sophisticated, targeted association tests or material presentation tests. The response times to standardized tasks, measurable in milliseconds, are used as indicators: the longer the response time compared to existing empirical values, the more likely a lie is.

The main scientific objection is that random test subjects in the laboratory18 are not interested and are not under pressure. The large corpus of scientific literature is therefore initially not at all transferable to the reality of legal facts or interrogation methods of the armies. People who agree to an investigation using a lie detector or have been forced to do so can keep their motives to themselves and deliberately display uncooperative behavior.

There is one fact that sums up these objections precisely: The American and other armies train their soldiers systematically with regard to specific interrogation methods. They train so that their soldiers, when they are captured, do not reveal secrets to the enemy through the autonomous reactions measured by a lie detector. The training is basically very simple: You cannot train that there are no fluctuations in the various parameters when you lie, but you can easily train that there are violent fluctuations in all questions by systematically and consciously activating the autonomic nervous system. Anyone can learn this through various techniques. This means that all of these interrogation methods have a systematic error in the direction of high activation, which means that the polygraph violently deflects even with insignificant questions (and therefore also with the articulation of the truth).

What is the future of this process?

At the moment it is becoming apparent that with the scientific and technical progress, more and more autonomous functions, especially neurophysiological functions, will be included in the measurement. The MRT is a suitable research method for this.However, when it comes to establishing the truth, the MRT is also affected by the aforementioned systematic measurement error: It requires a high level of willingness to cooperate, because one has to lie very still in the device and be ready to cooperate. And it's hard to imagine that politicians and bankers would be shoved into the MRT to learn truths.

57The researcher Paul Ekman is often referred to as the best lie detector in the world. What does this mean?

58 There is a large branch of research that deals systematically and with high equipment costs with the deciphering of body language (e.g. R. Krause in Germany). 19 Ekman has developed a complex system for coding the facial muscles: the FACS (Facial Action Coding System). Modern facial recognition software systems are able to map the complex patterns of human expressive constellations.

59Ekman20 has used extremely fine research methods to research reactions of muscle groups that normal people miss. In video analyzes he found out that there are reaction patterns in the facial muscles that only occur in a fraction of a second (and are therefore not capable of consciousness), but which, according to his experience, are a clear indication of whether they are real or simulated emotional ones Facial expressions.

At the beginning of his research, he had a video recording of a psychiatric patient who was clearly lying, which could only be seen later (she committed suicide shortly after the conversation, but in the conversation had credibly assured that she had distanced herself from such thoughts). He and his colleagues looked at the tape hundreds of times and found nothing that would point to the fatal outcome. It was only when he looked at picture by picture in slow motion that he discovered the “tell-tale” microprocesses. For a fraction of a second, mimic patterns could be seen that contrasted with the others and announced suicide. We have to assume that such reaction patterns are absorbed and processed by our brain, that they are even processed and fulfill action-guiding functions, but that they are nevertheless not accessible to consciousness. 21

61These microprocesses are very important and will certainly open up even more to research in the future. One is able to record these processes more precisely through film recordings and computer evaluations and it is very likely that the patterns of simultaneously active muscle groups in emotions such as fear, joy, laughter etc. are so specific that one can use this technique to through a retrospective analysis can learn a lot.

At the moment, science is in the process of categorizing these different reaction patterns and systematically evaluating them.

The basic thesis with regard to lie detection is therefore: A person who shows a real sincere emotion has a different pattern of muscular interaction than a person who lies or just pretends to be an emotion. Mainly the facial muscles, but also the movements of the hands and arms are included.22 The face has 24 muscles. Some neck muscles also modulate the overall expression and are deciphered by the recipient. The combinations of muscle movements in facial expressions and gestures are extraordinarily complex: the combination of the 24 muscle groups results in a range of about 10,000 combinations, since several muscles are always involved at the same time when expressing each emotion. In the end, this results in an extremely complex but unambiguous interpretation. According to current knowledge, one assumes a universality with regard to the emotional body language expressions, that is, it is assumed that central, vital forms of expression are the same for all people.

There now seem to be few people who have the extraordinary talent to grasp and interpret facial relationships (micromimicry) in fractions of a second, so to speak, intuitively, i.e. without any particular effort (but they, too, cannot make them conscious and explain them). With a high level of attention and additional training, these people can quickly and precisely record the reaction patterns of others and they are often used in the military and in border customs. It is actually amazing to watch them. In most cases, they cannot describe the evidence based on which they came to an assessment. They seem to be highly complex pattern recognition.

65 Intuitively, almost all people, if they are mentally reasonably stable and healthy, can grasp much more than they realize. Overall, we assume that only about 10% of the perception is consciously available to humans, i.e. 90% of what is perceived is stored and also analyzed, but not fed into conscious processing.

The conclusion may be sobering: there will be advances in science in the next 15 years, but for all we know about our society, this will in no way bring about relevant changes with regard to the “big” liars of our world, those mentioned at the beginning of the chapter (in politics, banks, religious communities and the advertising industry).

A recommendation to all liars emerges from this research: emotions that one does not have are difficult to pretend, and the suppression of violent emotions is also extremely error-prone. This means: You can only train one measure, namely to keep the facial muscles still as much as possible, and also to let your hands hang down motionless and then to speak in a uniform voice.

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