Deception with your classmates

com 322“To deceive someone is to….knowingly transmit messages that are meant to mislead another person by fostering false impressions, beliefs, or understandings by actively concealing the truth.” ( Dr. Kelly Albada deception powerpoint, module 9.)

Have you ever had told a white lie to your classmates or even a professor? This could be seen as deceiving them. Some reasons that you may need to deceive either your classmate or your professor could be for survival, to accomplish a goal, to protect one’s image, to avoid negative repercussions, or to establish/maintain a relationship.

I think we have all been there at one point in our academic career when we are faced with a situation when we must either tell the truth or face missing the very last assignment and not getting the A you were hoping for that semester. At this point you are not only faced with telling a white lie…but also is what you are saying or doing to get the assignment done ethical?

You walk into class and your classmate frantically runs up to you “I completely forgot this webassign is due today before class can I please see yours…..and I promise I will help you on the next assignment!?”

This is always a conflict I think that students face. Here you are standing wondering what am I going to say?  Of course this classmate is your good friend but on the other hand you know it is unethical to allow them to see your work and on top of that it took you almost an hour to complete the assigned webassign. Do you tell a white lie  or deceive them and not risk getting caught by your professor who is going to walk in the door at any second or let see the homework. In this situation you are faced with deceiving your classmate to either protect your image as a student….or to avoid negative repercussions for yourself.

In the twenty seconds you have to answer your friend in class you start to think I hate to lie to my friend and see them fail but I might and lose a friendship over something this silly. You weigh out the options in your head and realize that is not right to let them see your work due to the fact that you do not want to go against academic conduct and share your work.

Some different deception strategies that can be used can be to explain to your friend that are not going to be able to share your work with them could be using one of these strategies. One strategy is omission/concealment (, this can be seen as leaving out information. For example in this situation you could tell your classmate that you only completed one part of the assignment. Another deception strategy is falsification. Falsification is making up something that is not true, which can also be known as telling a story. In this situation you could tell your classmate that you left your laptop back in your dorm; even though you know you have it in your book bag. The last way to hide something is distortion/equivocation, this means to make something larger or smaller than it actually is. In this conversation with your classmate you could say “It didn’t take me very long, here I will help you.” Covering it up this way hides the fact that the assignment took you over an hour. 



Deception Reflection: Brickyard Edition

It happens to every single one of us – we are walking through the brickyard, a common area on campus, whether it is to go to class, to get food, to go to the library or to pass time, then someone approaches you with the intentions to get you on board with something they are associated with. It could be to get you to join a club, buy a baked good, pass out a flyer, or maybe even sign a petition, but how do you normally respond to these people?

That is, with one word, deception.

So, what does it mean to deceive? To deceive is to “knowingly transmit messages that are meant to mislead another by fostering false impressions, beliefs, or understandings or by actively concealing the truth.”

Sound familiar? You bet.

Here are the common phrases I give people who approach me with the intent to get me on board with something:

  • “I’m running late, sorry!”
  • “I’m on my way to class”
  • “I’m meeting someone”

In reality, only ¼ of the time are any of those true for me.

The reason for deception in this specific scenario is to accomplish a goal and the most common way to deceive someone in this scenario is through falsification (to make up something that isn’t true).

Deception reflection? I feel bad for deceiving these people AND I always think: Do they know if I’m telling the truth?

This blog post can give you an insight on how someone may be able to tell if you’re deceiving him or her. Here are the key points I took away from it:

  • Understand the actions and characteristics of someone who is lying: They usually speak slower and use excessive hand gestures (illustrators).
  • Split-second expressions (microexpressions) expose your emotions to your viewers quicker than you can control.

But, what is most interesting about deception on campus is the fact that it happens everywhere at all times. Check out this blog post to discover more about deception in classmates and professors.

-Taylor Trent


  2. Module 9 – Deception

Identifying and Understanding Deception on Campus

Unfortunately, deception is fairly common in the world, and it is prevalent on college campus as well.  Sometimes it is used to maintain a perception in a relationship or avoid consequences from certain actions.  People can also lie to others or omit the truth and justify it to themselves by claiming it is an attempt to maintain a relationship.  Being able to recognize when people are lying about something or putting on a false front when they’re around you can help avoid a lot of emotional distress down the road.  Whether or not you decide to confront that person, you will at least know to respond differently.  Hopefully this post will help you recognize the various signs or tells that most people display when they are being deceptive and distinguish them from the many myths surrounding how people think others act when they lie.

First, to debunk some myths about how most people think liars act in the moment.  While some of the beliefs are accurate, there are some that are completely wrong.  There are two major common misconceptions: 1) People look around more instead of making eye contact, and 2) They appear unsettled and fidgety while they are lying.  The myth about minimal eye contact is actually opposite of what often happens.  When many people lie, they make an exaggerated effort to make direct eye contact with some as a way of instilling a sense of trust in their listener.  They rely on a concept called nonverbal immediacy, which is a set of behaviors that convey approachability and trustworthiness among peers.  While some people are physically incapable of lying with a straight face, shifting their posture consistently is not a guaranteed symbol of lying.  They may be sore from the gym, need to go the bathroom, or simply impatient for the conversation to end.  There is little evidence that fidgeting during a conversation indicates the person is lying.

Now for the helpful, applicable part: understanding the actions and characteristics of someone lying.  Hopefully these symbols will help you interpret deceitful actions, but they are largely dependent on how well you know someone.  If you are meeting with a group member from a class for the first time, your interpretations will be a little skewed because you have no baseline.  Analyzing the person’s speech pattern will be one of the easiest ways to detect irregularities.  Generally, people who are lying speak slower with more hesitations during their sentences and before responding.  This provides them the time to formulate their sentences in a way that won’t give the lie away.  They will most likely adapt their gestures in some way as an attempt to conceal expressions that leak out as a result of focusing so heavily on saying the right words.  Performing excessive hand motions that emphasize the words (called illustrators) displays an attempt to distract the listener from paying attention to the expressions on their face or the words they are saying.

Lastly, everybody has little, split-second expressions that flash across their faces, betraying their emotions to viewers.  Called micro expressions, they are extremely hard to control and only occur within 1/25th of a second, making them hard to decipher.  Once you are able to recognize micro expressions, they will help you identify lies in nearly anyone you meet, regardless of your familiarity, because they exhibit themselves in the same way regardless of the person’s age, gender, or cultural background.  You can watch this video to see some common emotions that are displayed through micro expressions and learn how to identify them when they occur in conversations.

Being able to identify false conversations, emotions, and characteristics will make you less vulnerable to deceitful people around campus.  There is always someone trying to prey on people.  Whether it be someone lying about the qualities of the product they are selling or a service they provide or simply a person trying to use you for something by pretending to be your friend, recognizing the characteristics of a deceitful person will increase your defenses against these people.



Ekman, Paul.  Micro Expressions. Web.

Knapp, Mark L., others. Book. “Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction”

Vocalics in Practice: Gaining an Edge on Tests through Interpreting Vocalics

Many people often classify professors in their occupation based on their specific field of study.  While this is certainly true–a Biology professor is extremely unlikely to also teach a Mechanical Engineering course–at their root, professors are all public speakers.  Their ability to clearly communicate their knowledge to a class of often semi-interested college students can ultimately decide their fate in the teaching profession.  If a professor is unable to hold the students’ attention or fails to communicate the material that will be tested, students do not enjoy the class and subsequently tell their friends not to take the professor.  As a result, many professors develop great oratory skills, partly out of necessity, but also because of practice in addition to trial and error.  Their voice inflections, subtle cues, rate, and basically all parts of their lectures except for the actual words themselves are part of an area of study called vocalics.

Vocalics looks at all the parts of spoken word that accompany the actual words themselves in an attempt to understand how the way we say words affects the way those words are interpreted.  My goal is to help provide insight into this interesting topic, with the goal of explaining how knowing, recognizing, and interpreting these various characteristics can help gain an edge on tests and homework.

I want to start by explaining the various inflections professors might use to maintain attention or, more importantly, indicate significance.  Nearly everyone has had the monotone professor that makes it impossible to tell the difference between an important topic or a story from their past.  However, good professors use variations and common language to indicate when students should pay special attention. Changes in pitch, rate, volume, or convergence are all likely indicators that the professors wants students to take notes or remember a topic or instruction.  For example, using a different pitch, slowing their speaking rate, speaking louder, or carefully enunciating words are all indicators that the professor thinks the topic is important.  Just the other day, my professor asked someone to explain what the answer to the problem they had just solved meant.  After the student responded, my professor slowly repeated the answer with a raised voice. I looked over at my friend and quietly observed, “That’s going to be a test question.”  My professor heard me and laughingly said, “Yes.  Yes it will be.”  Being able to know and the ways professors give students hints in their lectures can go a long way to decreasing study time and making it more efficient.

Simply being able to recognize the various vocalics professors utilize in their lectures is not enough.  Students must be able to interpret them instead of hearing them and glossing right over.  Take the following sentences, taken from the book “Relevance: Communication and Cognition” by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson:

  • LENNY kicked the alligator.
  • Lenny KICKED the alligator.
  • Lenny kicked the ALLIGATOR.

Try reading each sentence and emphasizing the word in all capital letters by reading it in a louder volume and different pitch than the rest of the sentence.  Doing so creates a different focus and draws attention to a different part of the sentence.  Professors often use this to make their point, narrowing down the massive amounts of lecture material into little, more important soundbites of information.

Being able to recognize, these cues that professors have developed over time will go a long way to taking full advantage of their lectures.  Many professors–especially the ones that have been teaching for a while–have carefully honed their presentations to provide insight into future assignments and tests, but unfortunately, many students miss out on these little tips because they are not educated in the topic of vocalics.

For a fun, auditory example of how different vocalics sound, check out this compilation of clips from the TV show “The Office” that illustrates various examples and labels them in the subtitles.  Hopefully this guide has helped prepare you for upcoming lectures and you will be able to recognize the cues your professors give you down the road.



Vocalics in Practice: How to Successfully Communicate With Your Professor in Office Hours 101

The dreaded time comes shortly after the semester begins and you are learning new material – it’s time to visit your professor…in office hours. I know the feeling all too well from experience, but it never seems to get easier. The day typically starts out with an uneasy feeling and then there is the never ending accelerated heart rate as you’re walking to their office to meet one-on-one for the first time. But don’t worry – I’m here to help! Although I can’t be a guide on how to do everything right in your first visit, I’m here to give you an insight on how one thing can change your whole experience visiting your professor – vocalics.

Now your next question must be, “what is vocalics?” Vocalics is the study of the voice’s nonverbal uses and how those cues can be interpreted in different ways. Whether you believe it or not, your use of vocalics can completely determine how the person you’re communicating with understands what you’re saying.

So, here’s my advice to you. Follow this guide below so that next time you meet with your professor in office hours for the first time, your time is used more effectively and you get more things done through this thing we call, vocalics.

Rule #1: Understand the features of your voice.

By understanding the features of your voice, you will have a better idea of what your voice does and how you can alter it. Look below to learn different features of your voice.

  • Rate – The words per unit of time (fast/slow).
  • Pitch – The vibration rate of your vocal folds (high/low).
  • Loudness – The intensity and energy in your voice (loud/soft).
  • Enunciation/articulation – The sharpness/smoothness in your voice that is also either forceful/relaxed.
  • Rhythm – How smooth or jerky, singsong, or melodic your voice is.

Rule #2: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

How people receive and interpret your message can solely depend on how you say it. You can say something that isn’t sarcastic, but if you have a certain tone in your voice, the receiver can interpret what you said sarcastically. Below, you can discover a few examples of how changing different features in your voice can alter the mood of a message.

  • Declarative sentence – Using a lower pitch at the end of a sentence can make your sentence declarative.
  • Sarcasm – Using a manipulative tone with a message to contradict your statement can convey sarcasm to the receiver.
  • Smiling voice – With a smiling voice, your vocal tract is shortened with the effect of raising resonances.

Rule #3: “Understanding Emotion & The Voice”

Studies show that recognition of emotion from the voice is more difficult than recognition from the face. In one study, researchers discovered that some emotions are easier to communicate with the voice than others. This is what the study found:

  • Anger was identified 63% of the time
  • Pride was identified 20% of the time
  • Joy, hate, anger, and sadness was easy to recognize
  • Shame, love, fear, and disgust were more difficult to recognize.

With these results, you might find it easier to discover if your professor might be angry depending on his/her voice.

Another part of emotion and the voice that is critical to understand are that acoustic features in your voice vary with emotion, but can also overlap between emotions. Look below to see a list that associates acoustic features with specific emotions.

  • Joy – higher than average pitch, greater frequencies range/variability, faster rate, louder
  • Fear – Higher pitch, energy, faster rate
  • Anger – high pitch, louder, greater pitch range, faster rate
  • Sadness – lower pitch/loudness, slower rate

Rule #4: Practice, Understand, Practice Again, and Understand More.

Do simple exercises to see that putting emphasis on certain words can change the whole meaning of a sentence. Try these below:

  • “I didn’t SAY you were stupid.”
  • “I didn’t say YOU were stupid.”
  • “I didn’t say you were STUPID.”

To have a successful office hour meeting with your professor, first you have to understand what your voice does for you. Second, you have to understand that how you say what you say determines interpretations. Third, it is critical that you understand that you are conveying the right emotions with the different features of your voice. And finally, you have to practice and be aware of how you sound.

I hope that my guide made you more aware of understanding vocalics and what your voice does for you! Catch me next time on Surviving Campus Signals!

-Taylor Trent


Seat Check


It is my first day as a freshman at my new university, and the saying fish out of water has never felt more accurate in my life. I have compared schedules with everyone on my hall in my dorm, and not a single person has the same first class as me. I can’t believe it. My first class is at 9:10 in Winston Hall, interpersonal communication with Ms. Zuckerman. Luckily, I recognize her name from orientation so I will have one familiar face in my class.

I walk all the way across campus, as anxious as I may have ever been and am faced with the entrance to the building. The whole walk over I so focused on finding my way to the class, and making sure I am on time, that I don’t even realize I am about to walk into an auditorium full of unfamiliar faces and will be faced with choosing where to sit.

I find the building with no problems, climb the four flights of stairs and start making my way down the hall. Room 419 there it is, here goes nothing. I give a firm tug at the door, and to my surprise it opens quite briskly. Left foot right foot left foot right, I remind myself as I am climbing the stairs and glancing over the seat choices. I see one girl looking down at her phone who looks like she might be friendly….but realize how close she is to the front row, I keep climbing up.

As I am making my seat selection, I quickly realize how important nonverbal communication is going to become a part of my seat selection. The first glance you receive from someone is signaling whether they want you to sit by them or not. I make my seat selection and watch as the others pile into the auditorium. I give my nicest smile to everyone who approaches my row, but only get one person to have the nerve to sit on my row. While I am waiting on the lecture to begin, I keep going back to the thought in my head about nonverbal communication. The territorial aspect, of a seat in a classroom, is kind of shocking to me. I never realized how many messages can be sent without even saying one to word to someone.



Dining Hall Diaries

It’s Tuesday at 11:45am and I just got out of my repetitive and boring math class, where sometimes I have to hold open my eyelids to make sure I at least look like I’m paying attention. I leave the class on east campus and walk all the way to the dining hall on west campus, where I have a two-hour break and spend it eating lunch and finishing up some homework that’s due before the next class I have at 3:00pm (yikes)! This is my Tuesday/Thursday routine and it has always gone just as planned, until I go to sit down in my normal lunch spot and someone was sitting in MY seat. I do this two times a week and we are halfway in the semester, how could someone choose my seat out of all the open seats in the dining hall? I am heated, confused and upset. Where am I going to sit now? I look around, panicked, and notice a seat not too far over from the person sitting in my seat. I have lost track of my thinking because I am so upset that the seat I always sit in is taken.

After I start to reason with myself, I realize that maybe I shouldn’t have gotten all that upset because the seat didn’t actually have my name on it. But, I felt like this seat was somewhat a part of me since I had gotten so used to sitting in it all semester. Starting to understand that being territorial over a seat in the dining hall had just put me in a bad mood when I saw that someone else was sitting in it. I should probably start being more territorial over things I personally have full ownership over so that I won’t get upset in the dining hall and I can make sure to complete my homework before my next class without being flustered!