Within the show Lie to Me, Dr. Cal Lightman is used as a representative of an individual that uses his professional psychology skills in order to detect whether an individual is lying. This is based on the concept of micro expressions within an individual, which are an individual’s tell, and display when an individual is not telling the truth (Ekman, 2009). Lightman is said to have uncovered these micro expressions over the course of years of study, which means that he is portrayed as an individual that possess an advanced Ph.D degree (Matsumoto & Hyi Sung, 2011). However, this individual does not accurately represent psychology professionals as a whole, because such application of psychological theory does not truly exist within the real world (Ekman, The Philosophy of Deception, 2009).
The character himself is highly flawed, and shows various levels of unethical behavior when left to his own devices. He is shown multiple times using his talents for his own personal gain, whether in relationships or through organized gambling. Frequently, these misadventures lead to potential legal or criminal liability on part of the character, and responsible for other plotlines that exist within the show. Very infrequently is the character shown to be acting in a way that represents psychology professionals in the real world.
Despite this, the character does display an abnormal level of multicultural competency within the show. The character is displayed as an individual that is well traveled, and has much experience with various isolated tribes and language groups throughout the world. This multicultural exposure is oftentimes a key plot point, as it gives the character the necessary perspective to solve various cases or personal problems through unique methods. At no point does the character appear insensitive towards multicultural perspective. False insensitivity is used within the show to draw out other characters and to play to the advantage of the main character.
- Ekman, P. (2009). Lie To Me.
- Ekman, P. (2009). The Philosophy of Deception.
- Matsumoto, D., & Hyi Sung, H. (2011). Evidence for training the ability to read microexpressions of emotion. Motivation and Emotion, 181-191.