Half-a-Million-Dollar Deal for Professor

By Ben Wolf
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

This VSU assistant psychology professor says he can tell between truth and deception.

"By just looking at things like the kinds of words they say and how long it is and how detailed it is, we can tell nine times out of 10 if the person is telling the truth and telling us as much as they know," said Dr. Kevin Colwell.

Colwell, who was recently awarded a more than half-a-million-dollar contract by a defense contractor who works closely with the government, says his research started with child sexual abuse cases.

He currently trains child protective services personnel and police departments. The defense company wants to see if Colwell's research works with Arabic speakers.

"We're going to assess these statements that the translator makes to see if our system works with other languages," said Colwell.

If it does, Colwell's techniques could be vital to the U.S. military worldwide.

Many believe Colwell's research will pay dividends both internationally and locally. In addition, it's inspiring his grad students.

"I've been able to learn not only the psychology and law aspects of the research we're doing, but just the general process of research and funding," said graduate student Jessica Prewett.

And speaking of funding, if Colwell gets some positive research, there is a chance there will be a whole lot more of it.

Dr. Colwell also says that honest mistakes of the truth have some of the same characteristics as deception during interviews. Therefore, he says, the truth always prevails.