I have recently finished my dissertation and I thought I’d share with you what I learnt and some useful tips based on previous research on how you can tell if someone is lying to you.
In my research I have found that women are better at detecting deception than men, this is supported by various other research and that men are usually over-confident in their ability to detect deception. Males are more likely to lie than women, this may be why women are better at detecting deception because they are more frequently lied to. So, how do you know if someone is lying to you? Is it eye contact, fidgeting, longer responses, the use of ummm, ehhhh?
1. Eye Contact
It is common to believe that breaking eye contact is an indicator of deception, however this is not true. This is mostly true for children but not adults. You will find that some people who want to deceive you will hold your gaze, whereas some will look right. Why right? The right part of the brain is the creative side, so when one is making up a story or providing false evidence they will look left as they are activating their creative side of the brain to elaborate a story. However, this is not true in all cases, more often than not people will hold eye contact more when lying.
2. Reversing Events
Let’s say you ask someone what they were up to earlier and they tell you in detail. Fine, but what happens when you ask them to tell that story again but in reverse? Usually if someone is telling the truth it is quite simple to repeat it backwards, there may be some slight pauses as someone does it but its like doing the alphabet backwards it does require some thought. But someone who is being deceptive will usually miss out some information or put it in the wrong order, as people will rehearse it forward so much that when asked to do it backwards they won’t be able to.
3. Content of Lie
Usually, the typical things to look for is the way in which people tell a lie and the words that they choose to use. Firstly, liars will tend to use less first-person pronouns, this allows the liar to take less owner-ship of their story it helps make them feel less guilty about lying, trying to distance themselves from the situation or the lie. Secondly, a liar will tend to use more negative emotive words such as, hate, anger , sad. This is due to the fact the liar is feeling guilty and anxious so they are letting their unconscious leak through their speech. Lastly, pauses where pauses should not be. When recalling information some pauses are required, but where one should not be pausing could indicate that they are lying.
4. Body language
Some believe that fidgeting is an indicator of lying, which it could be as lying makes people feel anxious. However, most people will not fidget or move. The most common indicator of lying is touching the face especially the nose. Something to do with a specific type of tissue in the nose that itches when one get anxious or excited. Also, if someone does not believe what they are saying is the truth, they will usually take a step back away from the person they are lying to in order to distance themselves.
-It is difficult to catch a liar, trained police investigators have been shown to be no better than laypeople at detecting deception
-These 4 points are not set in stone, most research disagrees with each other, these are just some points. They may not hold constant as it is all dependent on the person, the situation and the lie. Therefore do not quote me on anything and please feel free to let me know if you have differing views on these.
-For high stake lies (such as money, crime etc.), these points may become more visible as the consequences for being caught out are higher and therefore a person may be more anxious or nervous. Whereas for low stake lies this would be the opposite.
– It is very difficult to detect deception as we are scared of the truth as we know it can hurt us, upset us. It’s something we don’t want to know therefore we are more likely to take false information as the truth in order to protect ourselves.