How to Detect Lying
People lie every day. Sometimes they lie to get something they want, other times they are just saving themselves or you from embarrassment. Yet, there are many con artists and sneaky business partners who may think that they are smarter than you and you won’t be able to catch them lying. If you suspect that there is a lying person in your life, there are few professional and science-backed tricks you can use to spot a liar.
Why do people lie?
Let’s be honest – everybody lies. Even the best of us can tell a lie from time to time to protect the people around us or to cover something that may hurt the feelings of family and friends. These are called “white lies.” Unfortunately, the desire to protect someone’s feelings is not the most common reason why people lie. According to PsychologyToday, the 3 most common motives behind lying are:
- Fear – people fear the consequences that may follow the truth, so they choose to lie in order to prevent fearful situations. This type of lie is common among children and cheating spouses;
- Manipulation – to get other people to do what someone wants is another popular reason to lie. Among the manipulative liars are con artists, politicians, and employers;
- Pride or boasting is also a common reason of lying. To create a favorable image of themselves in front of old friends, family members, and colleagues, people may say untruthful things. You may be surprised how often people tell you awesome, but false stories about themselves just to make a good impression.
How do liars behave?
It is a common myth that all liars behave nervous or anxious when telling lies. In fact, most people who lie only occasionally can act jumpy because the situation is not common for them. Most of us are occasional liars. But, according to most psychologists, there are also pathologic or compulsive liars who tell lies even without a reason. Detecting this type of liar can be challenging because in most cases they have been learning how to cover their lies since childhood. Compulsive liars tend to stay calm and confident when lying, mostly because lying is as natural for them as breathing. They are usually very creative and smart because constant lying requires lots of imagination and cognitive progress. Only some verbal and physical signs can reveal the true nature of liars.
5 verbal signs of lying
Despite the fact that lying behavior may differ in each person, Dr. Lillian Glass, a behavioral analyst and body language expert who used to work with the FBI, wrote in her book “The Body Language of Liars” that there are a few common verbal signs showing someone is lying to you:
- Repeating the same words or phrases. To convince you of lies, a liar may repeat the same words or sentences over and over again. Subconsciously, when repeating the same words, they try to buy themselves some time to come up with the new lies.
- Telling too much can be also the sign of lying. Glass is convinced that when a person starts telling too many details in his or her story, it is a sign of lies. Talking a lot is common for liars because they try to show their openness like this to make you believe them.
- A person’s voice may change. Suddenly, when answering a direct question, a lying person may start talking too fast or too slow. Inner tension can even result in a quavering or high-pitched tone. Sudden stammering or stuttering can also point to a lie.
- Sometimes, it may be harder and harder for liars to speak while telling lies. This can happen because the nervous system can decrease the salivary flow during tension or stress. In this case, hard swallowing, throat clearing, and Adam apple’s jumps become more frequent.
- Constant delays in responses to direct questions may signal that liars are coming up with new false facts. An honest answer usually comes straightforward, without any delay.
Subtle physical signs of lying
The body language of a lying man or woman may vary. Sometimes, the use of common verbal signs isn’t enough to detect a liar. However, there are some additional physical clues that may be signs that the person in front of you is telling lies. According to PsychologyToday, if you want to become a “human lie detector”, you should pay attention to subtle behavioral gestures that can point to a liar:
- Changing of the head position frequently and quickly. If you are wondering how to detect a lie, try asking a suspicious person a direct question, if he or she makes a sudden head movement (tilting to the side, bowing down, jerking back, etc.), it can be a sign of lying or hiding something;
- Eye direction. They say that if you want to know how to tell when someone is lying, look this person directly in the eyes. Most liars really tend to hide from direct eye contact, having the so-called “lying eyes.” They may look behind your back or above your head. Sometimes, liars can look for the nearest exit with eyes, subconsciously searching for the quickest way to escape. Also, pay attention to the feet – they can also be pointed towards doors or windows;
- Blinking too much or, on the contrary, blinking rarely can also be an involuntary body reaction to lying.;
- Finger pointing, hand tapping on a table, and other empathic gestures. A person may express these small gestures while denying the lies directly;
- Biting or licking the lips frequently. Liars often have a lack of saliva in the mouth because of stress, which is why they may start licking their lips. Pursed lips are another sign to watch in lying people;
- Sudden jaw movements. Sometimes, a lying man may involuntarily open his mouth and move the jaws back or forth. This is another body’s response to the lack of saliva in the mouth and throat;
- Leaning backward. Swaying the entire body slightly backward to subconsciously stay away from a potentially dangerous target that may spot their lies is another physical sign of lying.
How can you catch someone lying?
If you are wondering how to spot a liar “red-handed” at your workplace or home, you may use the police methods shared by Ronald Fisher, a psychologist working at Florida International University. What do police detectives do to find people who tell a lie:
- They try not to rely on the most common signs of lying because the questioned person can turn out to be an experienced compulsive liar;
- They can deliberately make a person recall the small details (already known to policemen) and tell the same story again, but this time backward, from the end to the start, to spot the obvious lies;
- They try not to interrupt the person while he or she tells a story. Afterward, they tend to ask the open-ended questions like “Can you tell me more about…” or “Tell me exactly..:”. Such questions make a person recall what he or she told a few minutes ago. Not all liars are capable of remembering their own lies.
Sometimes asking directly about lies and the reasons behind them may also work, especially if a person is not used to lying and wants to confess. Lying is something we all do for many reasons. While it may be satisfying to catch a person lying, consider why they were doing that in the first place. If they were lying out of fear, responding with anger is exactly what they were trying to avoid. Treat others, even people who lie, with compassion, and hopefully if you’re ever in the situation of lying you’ll be treated the same.