Researcher Thomas Ormerod, PhD, head of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex in England, said that in experiments spanning eight months, security agents at eight international airports in Europe detected dishonesty in 66 percent of the deceptive mock passengers using the new screening method, compared to just 3 percent for agents who observed signs thought to be associated with deception, including lack of eye contact, fidgeting and nervousness.
Ormerod said that the suspicious-signs screening method is widely used in airports in the United States, United Kingdom and many other countries, even though it has not been proven to be effective in laboratory or real-life settings.
Research with Coral Dando, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Wolverhampton and former London police officer, said that the U.K. government gave us a challenge that if they didn't think the current airport screening method worked well, then they should come up with a better one.
Researchers recruited 204 mock passengers (113 male, 91 female), including college acting students and undercover police detectives. Participants were paid 60 pounds (approximately $97) to participate, along with an additional 60 pounds if they avoided detection by security agents. Each mock passenger had a week to research a different deceptive cover story so he or she would be more convincing when questioned. For example, one recruit was instructed to say he was a telecommunications engineer traveling from England to Chicago for an international amateur fencing competition.
Ormerod added that the CCE method also could be used by detectives, court officials and other "professional lie catchers" and the method also may be used to uncover insurance and tax fraud and to catch job applicants who lie about their qualifications or employment history.
The study is published by the American Psychological Association.