According to researchers at the University of Padova in Italy, how a person moves a mouse when answering questions on a computer may reveal whether or not they’re lying. The finding has the potential to identify everything from fake online reviews and fraudulent insurance claims to pedophiles and terrorists, the team suggests.
The researchers used an artificial intelligence algorithm trained to make decisions based on data. The computer system was presented labeled examples from individuals answering questions honestly and those providing false answers. With experience, the algorithm began to identify the differences in mouse movements between an honest and dishonest answer.
During the study, which involved 60 students at the University of Padova, participants answered a series of questions — some of which were unexpected. Half were told to assume a false identity and given time to practice it.
The truthful individuals slid their mouse directly to an answer. The dishonest individual took a longer, indirect path to their answer.
“Our brain is built to respond truthfully. When we lie, we usually suppress the first response and substitute it with a faked response,” said Giuseppe Sartori, lead researcher and a University of Padova professor.