Researching a Non-Issue | Bright Mind (NLP – lying eyes)

How Incompetent Trainers Have Allowed Facts to Be Misrepresented

via Bright Mind Blog

Some time back I went to a training presented on detecting deception (and a few other related topics).  The trainer was a retired police officer who taught several different approaches and perspectives, including one strategy that I, myself, had come up with some years ago (independently) based on one of Sun Tsu‘s principles.  However, mid-way through, when talking about ways to recognize deception, he told a room full of 60+ counselors, correction officers, and managers, that NLP teaches that if people look up and to their right, they’re lying.

I have to admit, I got really agitated, because he was wrong in OH! so many ways! I thrashed around in my chair and at the next break, went up to speak with him, but he made it clear he wasn’t interested in having his facts (which were wrong on multiple levels) corrected.  I had people coming up to me afterwards for clarification because they knew something was wrong with what he was saying, and I had to explain over and over what was going on.

He’s not alone in this.  The movie The Negotiator from 1998, while dramatic as all get out, oversimplified the concept of eye accessing painfully and reinforced a popular myth about NLP and detecting lies, one that has become so pervasive that researchers in the UK felt it needful to debunk that myth with actual research.  And I have to say, I do not blame them, not really.  They’re wrong in that NLP does NOT claim a person who looks up and to the right is lying, but ignorant people who don’t really know NLP DO claim that NLP claims a person who looks up and right is lying.  Sadly, there are more people that are ignorant of this than there should be.

The premise is this: people move their eyes as they speak or think because they are accessing different parts of their brain.  A person who is is right handed will usually look up and to his left if he’s remembering a picture (note that I said usually–there are several categories of exception) and will frequently look up and to his right if he’s doing something with the pictures in his mind other than remembering them whole.  He might be looking only at a cut-out in his mind’s eye, or he might be imagining cartoon characters, but he is somehow tweaking the pictures in his mind.  Usually.  Thus, when that fellow looks up and left, we say he’s accessing Visual Remembered and when he looks up and right we say he is accessing Visual Creative.

Here’s where people who were eager for an easy way to detect lies went and messed the whole thing up.

Keep reading: Researching a Non-Issue | Bright Mind.

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