Assessing Deception by Voice Analysis: Part II: The LVA

  • James D. Harnsberger
  • Harry Hollien
Keywords: Forensic sciences, deception, detection of lying, voice stress, speech analysis, speech and deception, Phonetics.


This overview is the second of a two-part series designed to brief law enforcement personnel, attorneys and members of the intelligence services about the ability of voice analyzers to detect deception and stress from speech. Such analyses are important as devices of this type are proliferating and their use is creating problems. Thus, the question was asked: Can these devices actually provide valid information about deceptive behaviors? The effectiveness of NITV’s Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) was reviewed in the Part I article (Hollien and Harnsberger, 2013) where it was reported that the system was found to be ineffective. This second of the two reviews will focus on a somewhat different device – Nemesysco’s Layered Voice Analyzer (LVA). Here the summary will provide information about 1) its background, 2) relevant research, 3) a large laboratory experiment and 4) an extensive field study. The highly controlled laboratory experiment, assessing LVA, employed speech samples of individuals who systemically varied their utterances from normal to those which were intensely deceptive. To create the latter, subjects had to hold very strong views about some issue and were required to make sharply derogatory statements about them while believing that they would be observed by colleagues and friends. A double-blind evaluation of these utterances was carried out by two teams of qualified LVA operators. The field experiment (Horvath et al 2013)  focused on a group of suspects split in two groups -- a group that had produced truthful utterances and another whose members produced deceptive speech. The veracity of these utterances was validated by several procedures based primarily on polygraph evaluations. The detection rates provided by LVA operators were both assessed directly and then contrasted with the accuracy of experienced auditors. The results obtained by both studies demonstrated that the LVA system operates at only about chance levels.

Investigative Articles