Othello Effect (Othelloe Theory)

Othello Effect (Othelloe Theory)

The notion of the Othello Effect stems from Paul Ekman and occurs in an interrogation or Q&A type situation. A person who is actually truthful may feel nervous, anxious, or generally worried that he will not be believed by the other person (for example, a police officer). In this situation, the person may exhibit fear which may appear to be just like the type of nervous behavior a liar may exhibit when they are afraid of being caught. So, the innocent person may be perceived as being untruthful because of their behavior that simply resulted from being nervous about being perceived as untruthful…it’s quite the catch 22, isn’t it?

The role model here is Shakespeare’s Iago, insidiously, malevolently and falsely poisoning Othello’s mind against his faithful wife Desdemona. These are the lies people fear and resent the most, statements that will not only deceive them but also trick them into foolish or ruinous courses of behavior.

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