Washington, Feb 10: The next time you shed crocodile tears, be careful - a new study has given behavioural clues to spot fabricated versus genuine displays of remorse.
Researchers have found that those who show a greater range of emotional expressions and swing from one emotion to another very quickly - a phenomenon referred to as emotional turbulence - often fake remorse.
Leanne ten Brinke and colleagues, from the Centre for the Advancement of Psychology and Law (CAPSL), University of British Columbia and Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, also found that they speak with more hesitation.
These findings have important implications for judges and parole board members, who look for genuine remorse when they make their sentencing and release decisions.
In their study, the researchers examined the facial, verbal and body language behaviours associated with emotional deception in videotaped accounts of true personal wrongdoing, with either genuine or fabricated remorse, among 31 Canadian undergraduate students.
Their analysis of nearly 300,000 frames showed that those participants who displayed false remorse displayed more of the seven universal emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, surprise, and contempt) than those who were genuinely sorry.
The authors grouped the emotions displayed in facial expressions into three categories: positive (happiness), negative (sadness, fear, anger, contempt, disgust) and neutral (neutral, surprise).
They found that participants who were genuinely remorseful did not often swing directly from positive to negative emotions, but went through neutral emotions first.
In contrast, those who were deceiving the researchers made more frequent direct transitions between positive and negative emotions, with fewer displays of neutral emotions in between.
In addition, during fabricated remorse, students had a significantly higher rate of speech hesitations than during true remorse.
"Our study is the first to investigate genuine and falsified remorse for behavioural cues that might be indicative of such deception.
Identifying reliable cues could have considerable practical implications - for example for forensic psychologists, parole officers and legal decision-makers who need to assess the truthfulness of remorseful displays," the researchers concluded.
The study is published in Springer''s journal Law and Human Behavior. (ANI)