A Test of the Neuro-linguistic Programming Hypothesis that Eye-Movements Signal Lie and Truth Telling
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This study investigated the claim of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioners that eye movements to the upper right (UR) indicate a person is lying and eye movements to the upper left (UL) indicate a person is telling the truth. 32 right handed undergraduate and graduate participants were asked to carry out a simple task that required them to either remember or fabricate visual information in a counterbalanced lie and truth condition. They were subsequently interviewed on film and instructed to lie or tell the truth about their performance in the task depending on the condition type. Two independent-raters then separately viewed silent video tapes of participants in the lie and truth condition and scored the eye movements by coding the frequency of gazes and glances that fell in the UR and UL region of the participant’s visual field onto a coding diagram. The combined frequency of the inter-raters’ scoring of participants’ gazes to the UR and UL and glances to the UR and UL were found to be non-significant and non-directional, as eye movement direction to the UR or UL was not related to either the truth or lie condition. This study therefore fails to find any evidence that the directionality of eye movements signal lie and truth telling.