Psychopathic blending abilities in the courtroom

Dr Corinne Seals and Dr Hedwig Eisenbarth discuss how forensic linguistics and forensic psychology are used to uncover deception in the courtroom.

Uncovering deception: A forensic linguistics approach

Dr Corinne Seals, School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

How accurate are people at disguising themselves in writing and speaking? How can we uncover the true speaker or writer behind the disguise? Forensic linguistics considers aspects of language that are “below the radar”—that is, aspects of language that most people don’t realise tend to pattern in a certain way for speakers and writers.

When forensic linguists analyse spoken or written text, we peel back the obvious layers of superficial disguise to get to the subconscious patterning underneath. We are able to use natural language patterning to help us determine if we can take the speaker or author at face value, or if disguise is being attempted. If disguise is attempted, we can also use subconscious features of language patterning to uncover information about the person hidden beneath.

This talk looks at some of the processes involved with uncovering deception in forensic linguistics and provides some real life examples of how this has been done.

Psychopathic blending abilities at court

Associate Professor Hedwig Eisenbarth, School of Psychology

Part of the description of psychopathic personality is an ability to manipulate and deceive people, as well as a tendency to lie. So what if someone scoring high on psychopathic personality is a defendant at court? Are they able to deceive the jury, impress the judge or just lie about the actions they are accused about? Would it matter if the jury knows about the defendant’s psychopathic personality scores? And how would the gender of the defendant play a role in the proceedings?

While there might be some explanation for interpersonal manipulation through the concept of psychopathic personality, the ever more interesting question might be if the cold-hearted impression, and physiological calmness that is driving such an effect.

This talk will highlight the known and unknown parts of this stereotype of psychopathy at court.

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