Feb. 10, 2011 at 5:15 PM ET
By Linda Carroll
The best judgment call made by Congressman Christopher Lee may have been to have someone else read his apology.
The upstate New York lawmaker was made to say sorry -- and resign -- on Wednesday after Gawker revealed the married silver fox posted a shirtless, flexing photo of himself on a Craiglist dating forum.
Canadian scientists have discovered that there are ways to tell the difference between people who are sincerely remorseful and those who are just faking it -- but you have to be able to watch them while they’re saying they’re sorry.
The researchers, led by Leanne ten Brinke of the University of British Columbia, rounded up 31 college students who were videotaped while making sincere or insincere apologies, according to a new study published in the journal Law and Human Behavior.
The study volunteers were first asked to describe, while being videotaped, a non-criminal event that they felt intensely and genuinely remorseful about. They were then asked to describe an episode of cheating for which they felt no remorse, but to act as if they did.
When researchers compared the two sets of recordings, they saw major differences between the people who were truly sorry and those who were just faking it.
People who aren’t really sorry tend to show a greater swing in mood -- from sorry to happy, for example. People who are sincerely apologizing will go through a neutral mood before showing any signs of happiness.
The truly unremorseful also tend to speak with more hesitation. So, if you hear “um” a lot in between words, that’s not a good sign.
The point of the research was to help judges, juror and parole board members determine who is really sorry.
We’ll all have a chance to try out the new findings if ex-congressman Lee decides to make an apology in public.