7 December 2017
By Robert Cockerell and Nelvin Tam
As the festive season draws near, it is time again for Santa to figure out whether children around the globe have been naughty or nice. Those that have been naughty of course have a vested interest in keeping the truth from Santa. So, how does Santa ensure that only the nice children get the presents they deserve? Perhaps the answer lies in Santa developing his advanced techniques in detecting deception, which he uses when children get to sit on his lap and answer critical questions about their behaviour. 

In asking these questions there are 5 techniques for detecting deception that we think Santa should consider:

Infographic of five advanced interview techniques to detect deception

1. Formulating the question

It is important how Santa phrases the question to the child. Asking “have you been naughty or nice this year?” is unlikely to yield the results Santa wants; as the ambiguity of the two propositions basically encompasses all situations. Rather, by asking “Have you been naughty this year?” or in the alternative “Have you been nice this year?”, the singular proposition allows Santa to get a more direct answer to the question.

2. Not answering the question

It is indicative of deception if the child then replies to Santa “Who me?”. By not answering the question with a straightforward “Yes” or “No”, it is likely that the child is trying to hide some truth. Not answering the actual question asked is indicative of deception and if the child answers the question with a question, Santa could be onto something.

3. First person active past tense 

When Santa asks the child to recall an instance where they have been nice in the year, he should be listening attentively. If the child uses words such as “I went” or “I have”, he or she is committing to their story and more likely to be telling truth. However, the absence of that commitment (i.e. not using “I” or “we” or talking in the present or passive tense say, “there might have been some detentions at school this year”) could potentially be indicative of deception.

4. No one can lie twice

If the child says “Yes” to Santa about being nice or “No” to not being naughty, Santa can ask the simple question “Should I believe you?”. It is almost impossible for a deceptive person to say “I told you the truth” or words to the similar effect in the second instance. Non-commitments such as “It’s up to you” or “I guess so” again would indicate to Santa whether the child has lied or not.

5. Non-verbal cues

Physical symptoms such as restlessness, dryness of mouth, avoiding direct gaze and excessive sweating (just to name a few) are great indicators of deception. Santa would just simply need to observe the child’s reaction for clues. These non-verbal cues are also often very hard to hide! 

If you have been nice throughout the year, there is nothing to worry about. But, if you have been naughty, Santa’s techniques for detecting deceptions will definitely catch you out. Santa always checks his list twice! For more Santa related blogs, check out how Santa manages to review millions of letters with TAR.

KordaMentha hosts workshops and presentations to aid others understand detecting deception techniques which assist their day-to-day jobs. If you are interested to hear more, please contact Robert Cockerell