How To Detect Lies

August 5, 2011 1:17 pm 0 comments

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Watching facial expressions in order to determine whether a person is lying might just save you from being a victim of fraud, or it could help you figure out when somebody’s being genuine. Jury analysts do this when assisting in jury selection. The police do this during an interrogation. You have to learn the little facial and body expressions that can help you distinguish a lie from the truth.

1) Establish a base line

A base line is what someone acts like when they are not lying. You have to get a base line before you proceed with anything. Imagine you have a itch on your nose ever since you got out of bed. Someone might think you are hiding something because you scratch your nose when answering a question, when really you’ve been scratching your nose all day. To establish a baseline, you need to see the person when they aren’t lying. Try asking what their name is, and what they do for a living. If any of the signs below pop up when you know they’re telling the truth, then those signs aren’t indicative of lying.

2) Learn to recognize deflections.

Usually when people are lying, they will tell stories that are true but are deliberately aimed at not answering the question you asked. If a person responds to the question “Did you ever hit your wife?” with an answer such as “I love my wife, why would I do that?”, the suspect is technically telling a truth, but they are avoiding answering your original question. This may indicate that they are lying or trying to conceal something from you.

3) Notice the behavior of other body parts.

Watch their hands, arms and legs, which tend to be limited, stiff, and self-directed when the person is lying. Their hands may touch their face, ear, or the back of the neck. These are, however, a sign of nervousness, not a sign of deceit. They might not necessarily be nervous because they’re lying.

4) Look out for microexpressions.

Microexpressions are facial expressions that flash on a person’s face for a fraction of a second and reveal the person’s true emotion underneath their facade. Some people may be naturally sensitive to them, but almost anybody can easily train to be able to detect microexpressions. Typically, in a person who is lying, their microexpression will exhibit the emotion of distress, characterized by the eyebrows being drawn upwards towards the middle of the forehead (sometimes causing short lines to appear across the forehead skin).

5) Check for sweating.

People tend to sweat more when they lie. But this is not always a reliable indication of lying. Some people may sweat a lot more just because of nervousness or shyness.

6) Mind exaggerated details.

See if they are telling you too much, like “My mom is living in France, isn’t it nice there? Don’t you like the Eiffel tower? It’s so clean there.” Too many details may tip you off to their desperation to get you to believe them.

7) Notice the person’s eye movements.

Contrary to popular belief, a liar does not always avoid eye contact. Humans naturally break eye contact and look at non-moving objects to help them focus and remember. Liars may deliberately make eye contact to seem more sincere. You can usually tell if a person is remembering something or making something up based on their eye movements. When someone is remembering details, their eyes move to the right (your right). When someone is making something up, their eyes move to the left. It’s usually reversed for lefties.

8) Be aware of their emotional responses

  • Timing and duration tends to be off when someone is lying. If you ask someone a question and they respond directly after the question, there is a chance that the person is lying. This can be because they have rehearsed the answer, or they’re already thinking about the answer just to get it over with and move forward.
  • Pay close attention to the person’s reaction to your questions. A liar will often feel uncomfortable and turn their head or body away, or even subconsciously put an object between the two of you. Also, while an innocent person would go on the offensive (usually responding with anger, which will usually be revealed in a microexpression directly after you say you don’t believe them), a guilty person will often go immediately on the defensive (usually by saying something to reassure their facts, such as deflections).

9) Listen for a subtle delay in responses to questions.

An honest answer comes quickly from memory. Lies require a quick mental review of what they have told others to avoid inconsistency and to make up new details as needed. However, when people look up to remember things, it does not necessarily mean that they are lying.

10) Be conscious of their usage of words.

Verbal expression can give many clues as to whether a person is lying, such as:

  • Using/repeating your own exact words when answering a question
  • Avoiding use of contractions
  • Vocal pitch rising
  • Avoiding direct statements or answers (deflections)
  • Speaking excessively in an effort to convince
  • Speaking in a monotonous tone, speaking with a jumpy tone, or allowing pitch to rise and fall unnaturally
  • Leaving out pronouns (he, she, it, etc.)
  • Speaking in muddled sentences
  • Using humor and sarcasm to avoid the subject
  • Allow silence to enter the conversation.
  • Pausing at an unusual time, such as in the middle of a sentence
  • If they’re lying, they will become uncomfortable if you stare at them for a while with a look of disbelief. If they’re telling the truth, they will usually become angry or just frustrated (lips pressed together, brows down, upper eyelid tensed and pulled down to glare).

11) Change the subject quickly.

While an innocent person would be confused by the sudden shift in the conversation and may try to return to the previous subject, a liar will be relieved and welcome the change. You may see the person become more relaxed and less defensive.

12) Watch his or her throat.

A person may constantly be either trying to lubricate their throat when he/she lies by swallowing or clearing their throat to relieve the tension built up. A person’s voice can also be a good lie indicator; they may suddenly start talking faster or slower than normal, or their tension may result in a higher-pitched speaking tone.

13) Follow through.

If you have the means, check the validity of what the liar is saying. A skilled liar might give some reason why you shouldn’t talk to the person who could confirm or deny a story. Perhaps the liar will imply that the person is particularly favorable towards the liar, or that the person would have little time for you. These are probably lies themselves, so might be worthwhile overcoming your reluctance and to check with the person you’ve been warned against.

14) Notice it when the suspect repeats sentences.

If the suspect uses almost the exact same words over and over, then it’s probably a lie. When a person makes up a lie, he often tries to remember a certain phrase or sentence that sounds convincing. When asked to explain the situation again, the liar will use the very same ‘convincing’ sentence again.

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