Saturday, April 11, 2020

Mehrabian's 7% Rule

By Greg Wright
Certified Fraud Examiner
Certified Financial Planner
National Speaker

Sometimes, when searching for the truth, we jump at a promising shortcut.  The Mehrabian 7-33-55  rule was, for many, that shortcut.  But, the understanding of many is incorrect. 
The rule is not a lie detector.
When I ask an audience to yell out, "What do you think is more important, verbal or nonverbal behavior?", the audience will universally yell out "body language."
This important rule is that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal.
Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California is credited for this rule.  Although he originally trained as an engineer, he is best known for his research on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages. 
His two research studies developed the 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication. In communication, according to the research, a speaker's words are only a fraction of his efforts. The pitch and tone of his voice, the speed and rhythm of the spoken word, and the pauses between those words express more than what is being communicated by words alone. 
Do words alone only account for 7% of communication?
Be careful. 
Mehrabian said, "Please note that this and other equations regarding (the) relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications of feelings and attitudes." "Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable."
Except for feelings & attitudes, the Mehrabian's 7% rule is not a lie detector.
The transcribed words of a witness or suspect are often more useful in determining the true facts of an event than a video recording of the statement.  Body language will often sidetrack you from the truth. You need to focus on the words. 
More on that later.  I have conducted hundreds of interviews of witnesses and fraud suspects.

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