Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Anuario de Psicologia Juridica


Colegio Oficial de Psicologos de Madrid


School of Arts and Humanities


Vergunst, F., Tremblay, R. E., Nagin, D., Zheng, Y., Galéra, C., Park, J., ... & van Koppen, P. J. (2019). Inattention in boys from low-income backgrounds predicts welfare receipt: a 30-year prospective study. Psychological Medicine, 30, 1-12.


For security and justice professionals (e.g., police officers, lawyers, judges), the thousands of peer-reviewed articles on nonverbal communication represent important sources of knowledge. However, despite the scope of the scientific work carried out on this subject, professionals can turn to programs, methods, and approaches that fail to reflect the state of science. The objective of this article is to examine (i) concepts of nonverbal communication conveyed by these programs, methods, and approaches, but also (ii) the consequences of their use (e.g., on the life or liberty of individuals). To achieve this objective, we describe the scope of scientific research on nonverbal communication. A program (SPOT; Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques), a method (the BAI; Behavior Analysis Interview) and an approach (synergology) that each run counter to the state of science are examined. Finally, we outline five hypotheses to explain why some organizations in the fields of security and justice are turning to pseudoscience and pseudoscientific techniques. We conclude the article by inviting these organizations to work with the international community of scholars who have scientific expertise in nonverbal communication and lie (and truth) detection to implement evidence-based practices.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.