The Science of Lie Detection: Background information when reading The Man in the Rockefeller Suit

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit

The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter

by Mark Seal

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Science of Lie Detection

Print Review

You can't read The Man in the Rockefeller Suit without wondering if Rockefeller would have conned you too. While Seal notes that a few people failed to believe Rockefeller's stories or personas, the majority of people Gerhartstreiter met were more than happy to call the eccentric aristocrat friend, neighbor, business partner, club member, or even "uncle" and were generous with their time and money as well.

People in the business of detecting lies have offered various theories about how liars give themselves away. Widely recognized signs that a person is lying, such as shifty eyes, unusual speech patterns or inflections in the voice, awkward body language, and sweating, are all useful tools in identifying possible liars, however these "tells" aren't always reliable; they are often present in people who are nervous but also telling the truth.

In his blog for the Association for Psychological Science, Full Frontal Psychology, writer Wray Herbert notes that, "detecting deceit... is maddeningly difficult. Most of us can spot barely more than half of all lies and truths through listening and observation," and that, "a half-century of research has done little to polish this unimpressive track record."

But cognitive psychologists such as Aldert Vrij at the University of Portsmouth, UK are using one very valuable discovery to help change that. "The human mind... has limited capacity for how much thinking it can handle at any one time. So adding demands for additional, simultaneous thought - or cognitive 'load' - compromises normal information processing. What's more, lying is more cognitively demanding than telling the truth, so these compromised abilities should show up in detectable behavioral clues."

In an article entitled "Outsmarting the Liars: Toward a Cognitive Lie Detection Approach," Vrij suggests that liars can be outsmarted by making interview settings more stressful and/or by asking questions in ways that require more mental effort, which in turn produces "more cues to deceit." Vrij suggests that interviewees be asked to "tell their stories in reverse order" and to "instruct interviewees to maintain eye contact." He explains that, "When people have to concentrate on telling their stories - like when they are asked to recall what has happened - they are inclined to look away from their conversation partner... because maintaining eye contact is distracting." In this way, Vrij contends that by using this "strategic-questioning approach," scientists can better detect "the most differential respsonses between truth tellers and liars."

If you want to try your hand at lie detection, watch some of the uncut F.B.I. interview with Clark Rockefeller or scrutinize the images of him in the Boston Globe interview below, and see if you can detect any "cues to deceit."

Article by Jo Perry

This article was originally published in June 2011, and has been updated for the April 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Goodbye Days
    Goodbye Days
    by Jeff Zentner
    Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone to manage, but it's especially difficult for teenagers. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

The longest journey of any person is the journey inward

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -