Can you really tell if a kid is lying? | Kang Lee


Hi. Let me ask the audience a question: Did you ever lie as a child? If you did, could you please
raise your hand? Wow! This is the most honest
group of people I’ve ever met. (Laughter) So for the last 20 years, I’ve been studying
how children learn to tell lies. And today, I’m going to share with you some of the discoveries we have made. But to begin, I’m going to tell you
a story from Mr. Richard Messina, who is my friend and an elementary
school principal. He got a phone call one day. The caller says, “Mr. Messina, my son Johnny
will not come to school today because he’s sick.” Mr. Messina asks, “Who am I speaking to, please?” And the caller says, “I am my father.” (Laughter) So this story — (Laughter) sums up very nicely
three common beliefs we have about children and lying. One, children only come to tell lies after entering elementary school. Two, children are poor liars. We adults can easily detect their lies. And three, if children lie
at a very young age, there must be some
character flaws with them, and they are going to become
pathological liars for life. Well, it turns out all of the three beliefs are wrong. We have been playing guessing games with children all over the world. Here is an example. So in this game, we asked children
to guess the numbers on the cards. And we tell them if they win the game, they are going to get a big prize. But in the middle of the game, we make an excuse and leave the room. And before we leave the room, we tell them not to peek at the cards. Of course, we have hidden cameras in the room to watch their every move. Because the desire
to win the game is so strong, more than 90 percent of children will peek as soon as we leave the room. (Laughter) The crucial question is: When we return and ask the children whether or not they have peeked, will the children who peeked confess or lie about their transgression? We found that regardless
of gender, country, religion, at two years of age, 30 percent lie, 70 percent tell the truth
about their transgression. At three years of age, 50 percent lie and 50 percent
tell the truth. At four years of age, more than 80 percent lie. And after four years of age, most children lie. So as you can see, lying is really a typical part
of development. And some children begin to tell lies as young as two years of age. So now, let’s take a closer look
at the younger children. Why do some but not all
young children lie? In cooking, you need good ingredients to cook good food. And good lying requires
two key ingredients. The first key ingredient
is theory of mind, or the mind-reading ability. Mind reading is the ability to know that different people have
different knowledge about the situation and the ability to differentiate
between what I know and what you know. Mind reading is important for lying because the basis of lying is that I know you don’t know what I know. Therefore, I can lie to you. The second key ingredient
for good lying is self-control. It is the ability to control your speech,
your facial expression and your body language, so that you can tell a convincing lie. And we found that those young children who have more advanced mind-reading
and self-control abilities tell lies earlier and are more sophisticated liars. As it turns out, these two abilities
are also essential for all of us to function well in our society. In fact, deficits in mind-reading
and self-control abilities are associated with serious
developmental problems, such as ADHD and autism. So if you discover your two-year-old
is telling his or her first lie, instead of being alarmed, you should celebrate — (Laughter) because it signals that your child
has arrived at a new milestone of typical development. Now, are children poor liars? Do you think you can easily
detect their lies? Would you like to give it a try? Yes? OK. So I’m going to show you two videos. In the videos, the children are going to respond
to a researcher’s question, “Did you peek?” So try to tell me which child is lying and which child is telling the truth. Here’s child number one. Are you ready? (Video) Adult: Did you peek? Child: No. Kang Lee: And this is child number two. (Video) Adult: Did you peek? Child: No. KL: OK, if you think
child number one is lying, please raise your hand. And if you think child number two
is lying, please raise your hand. OK, so as a matter of fact, child number one is telling the truth, child number two is lying. Looks like many of you are terrible
detectors of children’s lies. (Laughter) Now, we have played similar kinds of games with many, many adults
from all walks of life. And we show them many videos. In half of the videos, the children lied. In the other half of the videos,
the children told the truth. And let’s find out
how these adults performed. Because there are as many liars
as truth tellers, if you guess randomly, there’s a 50 percent chance
you’re going to get it right. So if your accuracy is around 50 percent, it means you are a terrible detector
of children’s lies. So let’s start with undergrads
and law school students, who typically have
limited experience with children. No, they cannot detect children’s lies. Their performance is around chance. Now how about social workers
and child-protection lawyers, who work with children on a daily basis? Can they detect children’s lies? No, they cannot. (Laughter) What about judges, customs officers and police officers, who deal with liars on a daily basis? Can they detect children’s lies? No, they cannot. What about parents? Can parents detect other children’s lies? No, they cannot. What about, can parents
detect their own children’s lies? No, they cannot. (Laughter) (Applause) So now you may ask why children’s lies
are so difficult to detect. Let me illustrate this
with my own son, Nathan. This is his facial expression when he lies. (Laughter) So when children lie, their facial expression
is typically neutral. However, behind this neutral expression, the child is actually experiencing
a lot of emotions, such as fear, guilt, shame and maybe a little bit of liar’s delight. (Laughter) Unfortunately, such emotions
are either fleeting or hidden. Therefore, it’s mostly invisible to us. So in the last five years, we have been trying to figure out a way
to reveal these hidden emotions. Then we made a discovery. We know that underneath our facial skin, there’s a rich network of blood vessels. When we experience different emotions, our facial blood flow changes subtly. And these changes are regulated
by the autonomic system that is beyond our conscious control. By looking at facial blood flow changes, we can reveal people’s hidden emotions. Unfortunately, such emotion-related
facial blood flow changes are too subtle to detect by our naked eye. So to help us reveal
people’s facial emotions, we have developed a new imaging technology we call “transdermal optical imaging.” To do so, we use a regular
video camera to record people when they experience
various hidden emotions. And then, using our image
processing technology, we can extract transdermal images
of facial blood flow changes. By looking at transdermal video images, now we can easily see facial blood flow changes associated
with the various hidden emotions. And using this technology, we can now reveal the hidden emotions
associated with lying, and therefore detect people’s lies. We can do so noninvasively, remotely, inexpensively, with an accuracy at about 85 percent, which is far better than chance level. And in addition, we discovered
a Pinocchio effect. No, not this Pinocchio effect. (Laughter) This is the real Pinocchio effect. When people lie, the facial blood flow
on the cheeks decreases, and the facial blood flow
on the nose increases. Of course, lying is not the only situation that will evoke our hidden emotions. So then we asked ourselves, in addition to detecting lies, how can our technology be used? One application is in education. For example, using this technology,
we can help this mathematics teacher to identify the student in his classroom who may experience high anxiety
about the topic he’s teaching so that he can help him. And also we can use this in health care. For example, every day I Skype my parents, who live thousands of miles away. And using this technology, I can not only find out
what’s going on in their lives but also simultaneously monitor
their heart rate, their stress level, their mood and whether or not
they are experiencing pain. And perhaps in the future, their risks for heart attack
or hypertension. And you may ask: Can we use this also to reveal
politicians’ emotions? (Laughter) For example, during a debate. Well, the answer is yes. Using TV footage, we could detect
the politicians’ heart rate, mood and stress, and perhaps in the future,
whether or not they are lying to us. We can also use this
in marketing research, for example, to find out whether or not people like
certain consumer products. We can even use it in dating. So for example, if your date is smiling at you, this technology can help you to determine whether she actually likes you or she is just trying to be nice to you. And in this case, she is just trying to be nice to you. (Laughter) So transdermal optical imaging technology is at a very early stage of development. Many new applications will come about
that we don’t know today. However, one thing I know for sure is that lying will never
be the same again. Thank you very much. Xiè xie. (Applause)

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100 thoughts on “Can you really tell if a kid is lying? | Kang Lee

  1. we are too reliant on this technology. can't think f9r ourselves. losing all ability. perhaps there is something to the old pinnochio tale…there usually are age old lessons….may be people knew about the nose…glowing not growing..we keep using science to reaffirm what we used to know when we lived naturally and paid attention to things. it's so sad that our privacy will we so invaded on the future too…you won't even own tour own thoughts and emotions.

  2. I work in elementary school, most students tell lies because they don't wanna be punished, sometimes it's hard to differentiate whether they are telling the truth or not.

  3. We raise our children to play nice and always look for peaceful solutions. When they turn 18, we draft them into the military, give them guns, and order them to kill.

  4. When i was a kid id get very scared and i wouldnt be able to complete the lie assuming i was even able to speak but if i were lying i definitely would not finish my words bcuz ya idk…

  5. LMAO I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS 5 OR 6 I WAS ALWAYS TELLING TRUTH AND I WAS ALWAYS HONEST!!
    and so I went to my friend and asked:
    Why are you so ugly? (LOL I feel so bad now) and then she told it to her strict mom and the mom yelled at meh how could I say that?! and later took mah friend to da toilet and in the mirror said like: look U aRe BeAuTiFuL!!

  6. I was made to lie by beatings that left blood on the walls, but I had to say I did it to my dad to stop beating me. I never did it.

  7. What a came for: Cute things about kids lying
    What I got: Dystopian emotion reading tech

    I hate the world

  8. Teacher: Hand in your homework
    Student: I did my homework but left it at home
    Teacher: Transdermal Optical Imaging on student

  9. Dad: Johnny johnny
    Baby: Yes papa
    Dad: Eating sugar?
    Baby: no papa
    Dad: telling lies?
    Baby: no papa
    Dad: brings out transdermal optical imaging

  10. The text is so extra
    Now people are going to have to worry about unconscious things instead of just controlling their pulse

  11. I think the reason kids lie with a neutral face is because they were thought that people laugh or smile when they lie

  12. When I lie i act extremely calm. But im not a calm person soooo. People can tell when im lying. But i can mind trick people and i say "im not lying.. Or am i" when im lying or not.

  13. Life is going to be more and more like a video game, we are going to have things like google glasses with this kind of tech that can find out people's hidden moods with a status screen, soon maybe we can also have levels, skill upgrades, class changes, maybe an expansion patch further the line.

  14. There's no way that this would become so mainstream that we could use it on whoever we wanted such as politicians and our own children. It would be an invasion of privacy the same as it would be if we created a way to read minds. During investigations of people who are under suspicion of having committed crimes or people who are testifying under oath, fine. But using it on people you're dating?! Are we so childish that we can't just be honest and tell someone that we aren't really interested or that it isn't a good match?!

  15. My little brother thinks he’s a good liar bc he always says he brushed his teeth so I just touch his tooth brush and if it’s dry I tell him to brush them. I don’t tell him how I know though so he thinks I have super powers

  16. Anyone else start grinning uncontrollably when accused of telling a lie even though you are telling the truth and then they think you are lying because you are smiling?

  17. I just got done feeling this video. I have mixed emotions about it. I have to think more about it. I will be saving this.

  18. I had a question on whether a psychopath or a sociopath has the same blood flow reaction within their face?
    Moreover does an id-centric or a narcissistic personality have the same blood flow reaction within their face?

  19. My parents once found scratches on our bedroom floor. The conclusion they had drawn was that one of us had brought rocks inside and scratched the floor with them. My parents had also just helped us move a bunk bed across the room by pushing it. I was the only one to realize that the bed being pushed across the floor had caused these mysterious scratches. The only downside to my realization was that I was four, and didn't quite understand why the leg of a bed scratched the floor. I ended up explaining to my parents that the bed had used magic to put the scratches in the floor. As soon as they heard the word "Magic" they gave me a spanking and put me in time out. It wasn't until several years later that I even considered why I was punished.

  20. Most Parenting doesn’t teach your kids to be good and obedient, it teaches them to lie, deceive, manipulate people into calming down, and get their way by force

  21. I caught my kids out constantly.I have a degree in psychology and studied micro expressions and body language.It's easier I think,,to know if your own kids are lying compared to other peoples kids.

  22. Thanks to the technology that people will evolve. They will have to lie controlling their emotions or non verbal signals. Am i evolution ist? Lmao

  23. Me: Do you love me? or are you after my money!
    Her: Of course I love you, you silly. You know that I am no gold digger.
    Me: Oh yeah? My trans-dermal optical imaging camera say other wise.

  24. I was right! Child 2 was lying. I thought that the way they slightly looked like they were about to talk and that they knew the answer beforehand when the adult asked the question.

  25. I knew that child no1 wasn't lying because he didn't maintain look and didn't try to convince me that he wasn't lying, but child no2 stared and shaked her's head tried everything just to convince me she wasn't lying! And situation was somewhat obvious to confirm that!

  26. REAL STORY BTW

    Me: sees my mom smoking

    Also me: takes one when my mom is sleeping try’s to light it not strong enough

    Also me:Gives Up!

    Mom: goes downstairs next morning sees cigarette

    Mom: gets mad and asks who did it

    Me: Are dog did it

    Me in my head: we don’t have one I’m in trouble

  27. I study microexpression in faces, you need a reward system to cause the emotion to come out.. otherwise we can see poker face all the time

  28. I am going to share a funny little experience of mine, from when I was a child and lied 😅 When I was 8 I went to the store next to our house to buy groceries. But when I arrived home my mom said I had forgotten to buy bread and told me to go back to the store and get it. For some reason I felt really awkward going there again and telling I had forgotten to buy something… It was like admitting that I've make a mistake… So I didn't want to go… But my parents couldn't go because they were busy, so I had to. I had an idea. "I am going to change my look so the shop owner thinks I am someone else!". Boom, the awkward situation of me making a mistake dissapears if the one buying isn't me! So I changed clothes, I got wet hair and wore a hat, and then went again at the store. I picked up the bread, changed my voice and asked "How much is it?" I was really nervous but had a poker face. When the shop owner answered "0.8€" I felt so delightful… "They didn't find out that it's me!" I thought. Then I answered really happy "Here you go" and gave the money. I was happy about my achievement. When she gave me the bread and I was about to leave she called my name and asked "Did you have a shower?". I freezed. I will never forget how awkward this situation was for me. They caught me, I had to think something in order to not make it any more awkward. So I lied again saying "Yes…" and then run to my house 😂. I mean, she gave me the perfect excuse for coming again and having wet hair and different clothes. I lied using this to make my story make sense. At least more sense than disguising as someone else and believeing they wont recognise me, I lived next door, they saw me everyday 😂😂 At least, thanks to my poker face, no one find out about my crazy idea or the fact that I lied

  29. Then once this technology is fully developed, please start using it in court rooms as well to avoid unjust sentences to victims and to avoid having monsters get away with theft, murder, rape, femicide, pedophilia and so much more

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