Statement Analysis

Deception Detection by Language Analysis

Investigators repeatedly question people who may be untruthful, or who may have an interest in concealing information. Therefore, investigators need a method of separating fact from fiction. STATEMENT ANALYSIS can help them do this.
Various systems of deception detection have been devised. Some depend on analysing the subject's body language; one consists of watching the movements of the subject's eyes. Gestures vary with nationality and culture, and can be misleading to someone unfamiliar with the culture and who doesn't understand the code. In the Republic of South Africa, with inhabitants from many cultures, this can become very confusing.


STATEMENT ANALYSIS focuses on analysing the words in the statement and their inter-relationships, not upon observing "kinesics" or "body language". The basic premise is that the structure and contents of a subject's statement reveal whether there's an attempt at deception. STATEMENT ANALYSIS is cross-cultural, in the sense that an interrogator can conduct an analysis in any language he understands.
At least 90% of statements made are truthful, and most people do not attempt to lie directly. Instead, they hedge, omit crucial facts, feign forgetfulness, and pretend ignorance. The reason for this is that liars are reluctant to commit themselves to their deceptions, instead preferring to use conversational tricks to avoid damaging admissions.

Some use tricks, such as answering a question with a question, or glossing over critical points in the narrative. Another trick is bridging gaps with uninformative statements such as; "We talked" (about what?), or "afterwards" (after what?).
STATEMENT ANALYSIS studies speech patterns, seeking tell-tale signs of deception by analysing both structure and contents of statements.


The method is as reliable as a polygraph examination. In this country, we must remember, the polygraph is an investigative tool, and not evidence. During the years since its introduction during the early 1920s, the polygraph has not succeeded in gaining admission in courts, except for rare exceptions. Courts allow introduction of polygraph examinations as evidence in defence after which, the prosecution may rebut the evidence tendered, but also allow the bench the discretion of judging it valid or not.

Because STATEMENT ANALYSIS depends only upon the subject's statement, it's a "cold" technique. Scoring is based only upon structure and content, not upon gestures, perspiration, eye movements, and other factors that are open to individual interpretation. Thus, it avoids the weakness of techniques that depend upon "global scoring." Global scoring considers all possible factors that may affect the situation, and much depends upon the interpreter's judgment. The bottom line is that STATEMENT ANALYSIS is potentially more capable of development into a precise technique.

STATEMENT ANALYSIS is a versatile method because it's free from constraints that limit other techniques. Unlike the polygraph, it does not require attaching the subject to a machine. The subject is in most cases unaware that his statement will be the object of specialised treatment and analysis.

Low Tech
Unlike both the polygraph and the Voice Stress Analysis method, STATEMENT ANALYSIS does not require high-tech equipment, only a pencil and paper.

Remote Application
STATEMENT ANALYSIS also does not require the subject's presence during analysis. Once the pure version of the statement is on paper, the analysis can proceed when convenient. Indeed, an investigator can obtain a statement, and have it analysed later by a specialist. The statement can be made in Cape Town and analysed in Pietermaritzburg.

Focusing Tool
Like other psychological and behavioural techniques, such as profiling, STATEMENT ANALYSIS serves to focus an investigation. It a reasonably reliable method of probing for leads. This method is adaptable to many law enforcement investigative situations.

When compared to the other techniques that require an investigator presence, STATEMENT ANALYSIS is very reasonable and can assist in cutting costs of investigation significantly.

Q. But polygraph results are more or less accepted by the professional community while the ANALYSIS Questionnaire is unknown. How can I defend the results of the ANALYSIS to my bosses?

A. When one analyses Statements one does not "interpret" the answers. Instead we use only what the person said, and mainly what the person didn't say. ANALYSIS points out the evidence expressed by the person's own words. Once this evidence is exposed, it is apparent to everyone; a report based upon the ANALYSIS does not usually have to be "defended".

However, the ANALYSIS is not used to determine anyone's fate. The purpose of ANALYSIS is to shorten the investigation process by collecting information from both suspects and witnesses, while at the same time pointing out the most probable suspects. ANALYSIS has the added advantage that it is non-threatening and non-accusatory, and therefore does not cause resentment among the people who answer it.