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'Friendly chat' is key to spotting terrorists

By John Von Radowitz

Conversation is better than body language at catching out lying airline passengers who could be terrorists, research has shown.

Traditionally, airport security agents are trained to look for tell-tale suspicious signs of deception such as lack of eye contact, fidgeting and nervousness.

But an eight-month study in which agents were asked to spot dishonesty in 'mock' passengers showed that a conversation-based screening method was 20 times more effective.

The research was conducted at a number of international airports in Europe, including London's Heathrow.

While body language checks rooted out 3% of the false cover stories, questioning detected 66% on average.

The Controlled Cognitive Engagement (CCE) system was developed from laboratory studies.

It involves engaging in apparently friendly, informal conversation while asking seemingly unrelated questions.

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