Academic Reading Test 4.2


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 15-27, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.



   According to lay theory there exist three core basic signs for spotting liars. These are speaking quickly and excessive fluctuations in pitch of voice, the liar becoming fidgety and hesitant when questioned on detail, and failure to make eye-contact. There is nothing too perplexing about that. Yet, a good liar will be just as aware of these as the person they’re lying to and thus will ensure that eye contact especially is evident. Shifty eyes can indicate that someone is feeling emotional perhaps from a lie, or perhaps just from nerves as a result of lying. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Of course, this does not apply to instances where eye contact is non-existent, like during a telephone conversation. Psychologist Paul Eckman states that extensive use of details can make lies more believable. But they can also often trip up the liar. If the details change or contradict each other, you should suspect you’re being had.

   There exists an intrinsic link between emotional connections and effective lying. The notion is that it is harder to lie to those whom we know well and care for. There are two reasons for this: firstly, those close to us are more aware of our mannerisms and behavioral patterns and can more readily detect our default lying techniques. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The second reason is that people we don’t know lack the emotional response that people we are close to have regarding lying. Robert Galatzer-Levy, MD, a psychoanalyst in private practice, reasons that, “The good liar doesn’t feel bad or have a guilty conscience, so it’s much more difficult to pick up on cues that they are lying.” This is why it is apparently so easy for salesmen and politicians alike to lie so effortlessly.

   Recently a lot of politicians have been making outrageous claims about their ability to tell when a person is lying. Many lay people apparently believe that people can make a pretty good assessment of when a person is lying or not. Research illustrates, however, that nothing could be further from the truth.

   University of Maryland professor, Patricia Wallace, an expert on deception detection states, “Psychological research on deception shows that most of us are poor judges of truthfulness and this applies even to professionals such as police and customs inspectors whose jobs are supposed to include some expertise at lie detection.” [Crack IELTS with Rob] She then goes on to describe two of the many experiments in the psychological research literature which support this contention.

   The first study was conducted in 1987 and looked at whether police officers could be trained to detect deceptive eye witness statements. They watched videotaped statements of witnesses, some of whom were truthful and others who were not. They were told to pay close attention to non-verbal cues, such as body movements and posture, gestures, and facial expressions. They were also instructed to pay attention to the tempo and pitch of voices. In the end, however, the officers did only slightly better than chance at determining whether the witnesses were being truthful. And the more confident the officer was of his or her judgment, the more likely he or she was to be wrong.

   Airline customs inspectors, whose very job is to try and determine suspiciousness and lying, and lay people were used in another experiment. The inspectors and lay people in this experiment weren’t given any specific training or instructions on what to look for. [Crack IELTS with Rob] They were simply told to judge the truthfulness of mock inspection interviews viewed on videotape and determine whether the passenger was carrying contraband and lying about it. The “passengers” being interviewed were actually paid volunteers whose job was to try and fool the inspectors. Neither lay people nor inspectors did much better than chance. When questioned about what types of signs they looked for to determine lying behavior, the inspectors and lay people relied largely on preconceived notions about liars in general: liars will give short answers, volunteer extra information, show poor eye contact and nervous movements and evade questions.

   What nearly all deception experiments have in common to date is that they use videotape instead of live people in their design. Some might argue that it is this very difference which politicians and others are trying to emphasize. This is that people can’t tell when people are lying on videotape but can when the person is there, live, in front of them. Without research teasing out these subtle differences, however, it would be a leap of logic to simply assume that something is missing in a videotaped interview. [Crack IELTS with Rob] This is a seemingly baseless assumption. A person interviewed on videotape is very much live to the people doing the interviewing. It is simply a recording of a live event. While there may be differences, we simply don’t know that any indeed exist. Without that knowledge, anyone who claims to know is simply speaking from ignorance or prejudice.

   The conclusions from this research are obvious. Trained professionals and untrained lay people, in general, cannot tell when a person is lying. If you’ve known someone for years, your chances for detecting truthfulness are likely higher, but strangers trying to guess truthfulness in other strangers will do no better than chance in their accuracy.


Questions 15 - 20

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 15-20 on your answer sheet, write


          YES                  if the statement agrees with the writer's claims

          NO                    if the statement contradicts the writer's claims

          NOT GIVEN     if there is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this


  • 15.  Tactics that liars use to trick people frequently give them away.

  • 16.  Good liars show less emotional response to the fact that they are lying.

  • 17.  In the two experiments described in the text, the police performed better than the airline customs inspectors.

  • 18.  The preparation for both experiments described in the text were very similar.

  • 19.  Not looking people in the eye was one technique used by the airline customs inspectors to help successfully spot liars.

  • 20.  Patricia Wallace has carried out at least two deception experiments.


Questions 21 - 24

Complete each of the following statements with words taken from Reading Passage 2.
Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes, 21 - 24, on your answer sheet.


  • 21. It has been put forward that politicians use the  between speaking live and on television to help them fool people.

  • 22. Liars are often  of the things that people look for in liars.

  • 23. Two vocal clues that policemen listened for in their experiment were  and pitch.

  • 24.  were used to try and fool the airline customs inspectors and lay people.


Questions 25 - 27

Answer the questions below.

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS OR A NUMBER from Reading Passage 2.
Write your answers in boxes, 25 - 27, on your answer sheet.


  • 25. Apart from television, what example does the text give of conversation when people don’t look each other in the eye? 

  • 26. Who have recently asserted that they can spot liars easily? 

  • 27. What is the similarity in most psychological lying research? 



Result: / Exit

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