Toronto Metropolitan University
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The Analysis of Nonverbal Communication: The Dangers of Pseudoscience in Security and Justice Contexts

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-14, 19:01 authored by Vincent Denault, Pierrich Plusquellec, Louise M. Jupe, Michel St-Yves, Norah E. Dunbar, Maria Hartwig, Siegfried L. Sporer, Jessica Rioux-Turcotte, Jonathan Jarry, Dave Walsh, Henry Otgaar, Andrei ViziteuAndrei Viziteu, Victoria Talwar, David A. Keatley, Iris Blandón-Gitlin, Clint Townson, Nadine Deslauriers-Varin, Scott O. Lilienfeld, Miles L. Patterson, Igor ArehIgor Areh, Alfred Allan, Hilary Evans CameronHilary Evans Cameron, Rémi Boivin, Leanne ten Brinke, Jaume Masip, Ray Bull, Mireille Cyr, Lorraine Hope, Leif A. Strömwall, Stephanie J. Bennett, Faisal Al Menaiya, Richard A. Leo, Annelies VredeveldtAnnelies Vredeveldt, Marty Laforest, Charles R. Honts, Antonio L. Manzanero, Samantha Mann, Pär Anders Granhag, Karl Ask, Fiona Gabbert, Jean-Pierre Guay, Alexandre Coutant, Jeffrey Hancock, Valerie Manusov, Judee K. Burgoon, Steven M. Kleinman, Gordon Wright, Sara Landström, Ian Freckelton, Zarah Vernham, Peter J. van Koppen

For security and justice professionals (e.g., police officers, lawyers, judges), the thousands of peer-reviewed articles on nonverbal communication represent important sources of knowledge. However, despite the scope of the scientific work carried out on this subject, professionals can turn to programs, methods, and approaches that fail to reflect the state of science. The objective of this article is to examine (i) concepts of nonverbal communication conveyed by these programs, methods, and approaches, but also (ii) the consequences of their use (e.g., on the life or liberty of individuals). To achieve this objective, we describe the scope of scientific research on nonverbal communication. A program (SPOT; Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques), a method (the BAI; Behavior Analysis Interview) and an approach (synergology) that each run counter to the state of science are examined. Finally, we outline five hypotheses to explain why some organizations in the fields of security and justice are turning to pseudoscience and pseudoscientific techniques. We conclude the article by inviting these organizations to work with the international community of scholars who have scientific expertise in nonverbal communication and lie (and truth) detection to implement evidence-based practices.