Eye-tracking lie detection software developed

Shifty eyes have long been thought to signify a person’s problem
telling the truth. Now a group of US researchers are taking that old
adage to a new level.

Oct 7, 2010
By Paul Jacques
Assistant Chief Constable Ben Smith

Shifty eyes have long been thought to signify a person’s problem

telling the truth. Now a group of US researchers are taking that old

adage to a new level.

Educational psychologists at the University of Utah are using

eye-tracking technology to pioneer a promising alternative to the

polygraph for lie detection.

Tracking eye movement to detect lies became possible in recent years

because of substantial improvements in technology. The Utah researchers

– John Kircher, Doug Hacker, Anne Cook, Dan Woltz and David Raskin –

say they are the first to develop and assess the software and methods

for applying these tests effectively.

Using eye movement to detect lies contrasts with polygraph testing.

Instead of measuring a person’s emotional reaction to lying,

eye-tracking technology measures the person’s cognitive reaction. To do

so, the researchers record a number of measurements while a subject is

answering a series of true-and-false questions on a computer. The

measurements include pupil dilation, response time, reading and

rereading time, and errors.

The researchers determined that lying requires more work than telling

the truth, so they look for indications that the subject is working

hard. For example, a person who is being dishonest may have dilated

pupils and take longer to read and answer the questions. These

reactions are often minute and require sophisticated measurement and

statistical modeling to determine their significance.

“We have got great results from our experiments,” said Mr Kircher.

“They are as good as, or better than, the polygraph, and we are still

in the early stages of this innovative new method to determine if

someone is trying to deceive you.”

Besides measuring a different type of response, eye-tracking methods

for detecting lies has several other benefits over the polygraph. Eye

tracking promises to cost substantially less, require one-fifth of the

time currently needed for examinations, require no attachment to the

subject being tested, be available in any language and be administered

by technicians rather than qualified polygraph examiners.

The University of Utah has now licensed the technology to Credibility Assessment Technologies (CAT).

CAT president Donald Sanborn explained: “The eye-tracking method for detecting lies has great potential.

“It’s a matter of national security that our government agencies have

the best and most advanced methods for detecting truth from fiction and

we believe we are addressing that need by licensing the extraordinary

research done at the University of Utah.”

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