Psychological Narrative Analysis (PNA) is an innovative interviewing and analytical technique that works with both the written and spoken word. PNA does not use colored pencils, lines, circles, or squares but, rather, identifies words, speech patterns, and grammar structures that reveal a person’s veracity and behavioral characteristics. Both truthful and deceptive people use the same grammar rules to construct sentences. The only difference between truthful statements and deceptive statements is the omission or obfuscation of the truth. PNA techniques identify and exploit these differences. PNA offers lawyers effective communication techniques to detect deception and to seek the objective truth in both the spoken and written word.
Lying by Obfuscation
Most liars tell the truth up to the point where they want to conceal information, skip over the withheld information, and tell the truth again. Successful liars construct sentences that allow them to skip over withheld information, thus creating information gaps. Constructing a sentence to span the information gap replicates building a bridge across a river. A road stops at the river’s edge, a bridge spans the river, and the road continues on the opposite bank. Bridges come in a variety of designs, but each design must adhere to specific construction standards or structural failure occurs. Likewise, sentence construction must follow certain grammar rules. Truthful people use the same grammar rules as do deceptive people to construct sentences. The omission or obfuscation of the truth differentiates truthful communications from deceptive communications.
Isolating the words or grammatical structures used to bridge information gaps identifying intentionally or unintentionally withheld information. Text Bridges serve as markers that signal withheld information; however, withheld information does not always indicate deception.
Text Bridges allow people to transition from one topic to another topic without detailing lesser-included activities. For example, in the sentence “I got up, and then I took a shower, and then I ate breakfast,” the Text Bridge “then” signals withheld information. The withheld information does not constitute deception. The writer did not want to bore the listener or reader with the lesser-included activities of taking a shower and eating breakfast. The omitted activities encompass turning on the water, soaping, rinsing, drying off, donning clothes, walking to the kitchen, taking a bowl from the cupboard, filling the bowl with cereal, going to the refrigerator to get milk, etc. However, Text Bridges used at critical times during interviews or interrogations may signal deception. The critical time in a statement or narrative is the point in the communication that addresses the main topic of the inquiry. For example, if a bank were robbed at 2 p.m., the critical time would begin at the point in the interviewee’s narrative where the bank robbery is first mentioned and end with the last mention of the bank robbery. In the event the interviewee did not mention the bank, the critical time would begin from the event in the interviewee’s narrative that occurs at the approximate time the bank was robbed until the time when the bank robbery ended. If investigators deem the missing information to have no value, then they can ignore the Text Bridge.
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