What is Psycho-Linguistic Profiling?
by Peter Hyatt
When a new analyst reads some basic statements analyzed, it can be a very exciting and an inspiring experience. In the beginning, very basic principles are presented, but like the young pianist who has now learned all the major notes and keys, must progress to the minor notes and keys.
One of the chief misleading elements is the ‘wow’ factor presented in analysis where the conclusion of the matter proved to be correct.
“Never. Never!” goes the denial.
In analysis, we consider this an “Unreliable Denial.” Unreliable means just that: it is not reliable. It does not necessarily mean “deception indicated.” Often, it proves deceptive, but by itself, it is not to be classified beyond “unreliable” by the investigator/analyst.
In advertising for analysis, this is very enticing. It will be often accurate, but sooner than later, it will be wrong and the analyst who rushed to “deception indicated!” will, early in his or her career, be discredited. For a blog or an opinion, the discrediting may not mean anything more than discouragement, but for the professional, the consequences are much higher.
The classification of “unreliable” as “deception indicated” will be a discredit to the professional investigator. He or she will be discouraged and the next presentation, even when accurate, is likely to be discounted or ignored entirely.
Why do many fall into this trap?
Because of the lure of oversimplification in analysis.
The “wow” moments are real, but they do not come in such short order when accuracy is needed. 70% success rate is an embarrassment.
In the UK, a study was done specifically on the SCAN method and they determined that the increase in accuracy was not enough to justify the cost of training. Here is what they did:
They held the two and one half day seminar, and then tested the “analysts.”
The trainees scored little higher than the experienced investigators on the cases; 70% and that 20% more than just guess work.
The television show, “Lie to Me” coupled with human nature’s lazy desire for instant gratification has led to a great deal of error in detecting deception. Regardless of what you hear, who might be foolish enough to stake a career on a twitch of an eye? Paul Ekman himself has told us that he has no faith in his system nor in his followers who paid for ‘microexpression’ training. It is ‘exciting’ but in professional settings, errors matter deeply. There is no award for being “75% successful” when the 25% failure could mean wrongful arrest, conviction, loss of job, and so on.
Words reveal us. Specifically, words reveal 4 elements about us, which in advanced training is called “Psycho-Linguistic Profiling.
The psychology make up, as revealed through words, is part of advanced analysis, so detailed, that it can often reveal the identity of an anonymous threatening letter or ransom note. The phrase “psycholinguistics” was coined by Dr. Kantor in 1936 and was used to describe the study behind grammar and how humans learn to communicate. The hyphenation is used to differentiate between the works, to specify that this is profiling work with a specific goal in mind.
We look into the will of man, and what determines it, what influences it, and how people speak who, for example, have been diagnosed with a personality disorder. (We limit this to basic and most common disorders that are prevalent in criminal cases). Many people are familiar with ‘projection’ (linguistic projection) and often get a ‘sense’ of it in an argument, where the projector literally reflects his own personal issue or struggle onto another. We hold to principle so that there is a consistency of application, rather than guess work, even when the guess work is accurate. The accurate guess work may be exciting to read (Hodges on Jonbenet, comes to mind), but what about taking the “this means that” principle and applying it elsewhere?
It is a recipe for disaster.
Knowing the identity of one who, for example, makes a terroristic threat, naturally gives us insight into threat assessment. There are several examples of this, from the news, of specifically identifying the author of anonymous threatening notes. We only publish news stories of public record, not those in consultation with law enforcement.
In those examples, the actual authors were identified by their choice of words.
How is this done?
Our words reveal our priorities. This goes for general statements and for specific allegation statements.
Our words reveal our backgrounds, including our sex, race, intelligence, and so on.
Our words reveal our experiences in life, including trauma experiences, professional experiences, and so on.
Our words reveal our basic personality type; even in spite of sways and changes in the DSM. The personality type can tell us:
a. how to conduct our interview
b. how to assess a threat
This works has as a prerequisite a very deeply established foundation of principle.
This means that all the notes and chords must be learned.
This means that all the notes and chords must be rehearsed, or practiced constantly, over a long period of time.
This means that the analyst, from Day 1, learns to have his or her work checked by other professionals.
In the “truth” business, just as there is no room for narrative, there is no room for ego. Those who are “the best and brightest” investigators and analysts in this country share a refreshing humility that leads them to second and third opinions as a matter of routine. The climate is such that the ‘lone wolf’ analyst would raise suspicion and mistrust.
One of the first things the new analyst must submit to is the discipline of both principle, and repetition. The intellectual and emotional limitations we all experience are not just genetic. This is why we ‘ponder’ conversations and problems, sometimes for days on end, until we find a solution. Analysis is the same way.
We complete analysis, have our work checked (almost always thus having analysis added to, rather than subtracted from) only to find, upon revisiting the analysis, more content. We have a marvelous defense mechanism that causes us to reveal the need for mental and emotional rest.
Some top professionals even practice repetitive team analysis training. This means, specifically:
6 hours of analysis on a single statement, with a strong team, on Monday only to join another strong team on Tuesday covering the exact same statement.
The results are stunning.
The lessons learned, however, are far more long term.
In Psycho-Linguistic Profiling, we learn who the subject is. This allows us to know, for example in deception, the type of liar (this is a separate study), which enables us to understand what he or she did and what he or she is likely to do. This includes the precise predicting of answers to questions.
When an advanced analyst takes a statement and works it through and determines what happened, where deception was found, what portions were reliable and what were not, and then moves on to complete a psychological profile based upon the linguistics only to find:
The analyst’s conclusion matched the subject’s diagnosis
the analyst knows a great deal about what happened and what the subject is like before the interview and interrogation.
The analyst/investigator is filled with both confidence and resolve and bases the questions upon the personality of the subject, using the subject’s own words (legally sound; non interpretive) and focuses the time frame at the most critical points of the time frame.
This is where the confession is found. Once obtained the investigator is now free to show the subject his or her analysis and allow the subject to guide him through his own work.
It is difficult to find a greater encouragement than the confessed subject affirming your work.
From a recent account from a studious investigator:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo denied on Wednesday discussing the “Bridgegate” lane closures in Fort Lee with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and then agreeing to play along with a phony traffic-study report to cover up the scandal.
“It didn’t happen, and you know it didn’t happen because there was no report,” Cuomo insisted.
“If there was a conversation where we said we would do a report that does X, you know how you would know? There would be a report.”
We look at “it didn’t happen”, not as deceptive, but as passive. It is not concluded as a deceptive denial, but an “Unreliable Denial.”
Then we look at the stated reason why that is offered by the subject. Here, he tells us how “you” know “it didn’t happen” via explanation.
This is very sensitive to him.
Yet, we continue from there.
Not only do we have a passive, unreliable denial, and not only do we have a need to explain why “you” can “know” it “didn’t happen”, but the reason, itself, is given in what is not done:
“there was no report. ”
This is offered in an explanation ‘why’, in the negative.
Thus, the analyst can now take his “Unreliable” classification and add to it several points of sensitivity for his or her conclusion.
For training opportunities contact us through Hyatt Analysis Services.
If you rely upon the oft-exciting over simplification of analysis, you will eventually find yourself in error, perhaps at the 70% level.
If you apply yourself to learn the science and commit to professional oversight and self-discipline, you can move to at or near 100% success with analysis you can “stake your career on.”
It begins with a thorough course on Statement Analysis. This is the beginning. With the course, comes 12 months of e-support. The investigator will not submit an errant report because his or her work will always be checked.
Enrollment in the course allows for monthly, live on going training at a significant discount.
Successful work leads to accreditation to the point where the analyst can now not only move into Advanced Analysis work, including the psycho-linguistic profiling, but help fill a tremendous void in Employment Analysis.
We hope to shortly announce a new course specifically in Employment Analysis.
This is designed for the trained professional who now learns a major shift in paradigm to assist companies in both hiring as well as security vetting and screening.
For police departments, it is a significant improvement in screening out those who should not be carrying lethal force.
It will save companies significant money from unemployment, to fraudulent claims, threats of boycott, legal fees, as well as time losses and morale issues.
The need in our country is, perhaps, more than ever before, as deception, corruption and self interest has become not only acceptable and popular, but has become stated as the “moral high ground”, while institutionalized envy has condemned success, authority, humility and other areas of honor. Courts have shown prejudice against companies just as the political elite have shown contempt for authority, in its ‘war on police.’
Discernment on all levels is acutely needed.
If you have enjoyed some of the “101” introductions and have found them exciting, consider giving your career the traction it needs in successful application of hard work in analysis. This allows preparation of what future challenges may pose.