What is a “behavior detection officer” and why do we suddenly need them in U.S. airports? These are good questions posed by Patti Davis in Newsweek online this week:

“Specially trained security personnel” will be watching passengers for “micro-expressions” that will reveal treacherous agendas and insidious intentions at airports around the country.

The problem? Well, searching for the term “micro-expressions” (and permutations of that phrase) in both MEDLINE and PsycINFO show little scientific evidence that this is a respected area of research. In fact, in my search, I could only find two citations related to this area, one of which wasn’t a study, but rather a book chapter. (The other involved people diagnosed with schizophrenia, a serious mental disorder.)

There is, however, a great deal of research showing how lousy humans are at detecting others who are lying, especially through the exclusive use of nonverbal cues.

I’m sorry, but as much as I’d like to be “protected” by my government, I also want them to use scientifically-proven techniques in doing so, especially in the area of human behavior. This isn’t one of them.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 9 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Aug 2007
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2007). Behavior Detection Officers at U.S. Airports. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/08/18/behavior-detection-officers-at-us-airports/

 

Recent Comments
  • Healed: I have a niece suffering with depression and this blog has helped greatly. Thank you to all for sharing your...
  • Will it ever end: I’ve been married for 8+ years and in total have been with my husband for 14 years. About 4...
  • george: a Appreciate your comment. The added dimensional of “relational” helps my understanding.
  • ruff2play: Thank you for this. I’m in the worrying stage and have been paralysed in taking further steps to the...
  • Clara: Dear rationalizer and all those reading along, For me typing out my story and posting it out here for the...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code