There are four different areas to watch when you want to know when someone is lying to you or not. The first area is body language. Someone who is lying will have limited facial expressions and movements. For example, a liar will speak with few hand and arm movements and the movements which they do make will be directed at their own body. The entire body is contracted when a person is lying, this causes them to take up less space. Often times, a liar will avoid making eye contact. Generally they will glance down and to the left; the brain causes the body to do this when the imagination is at work, hence the lie. This movement is opposed to an honest person who will look to their right as their brain accesses memories. Usually their hands will touch their face, especially the neck and mouth. Many times a liar will touch or scratch their neck or the area directly behind the ear; this is an effort to relieve the pressure they feel in telling the lie. The most unlikely movement a liar would ever make is to touch their open hand to their heart or chest.
The second area to consider when detecting a liar is the emotional gestures and contradictions. The most noticeable change is in their display of emotion. The display comes later than it should, stays longer, and stops suddenly. When a person is lying their gestures or expressions do not match their verbal statements. For example, the liar says “I love you” but is frowning. When someone is faking their emotions their expressions are limited to the mouth. An example of this would be a liar smiling only with their lips for a photo as opposed to their friend beside them who has a smile that affects their eyes, cheeks, and mouth.
The third area to consider would be a person’s interactions and reactions. Someone who is “guilty” would become defensive when asked a question, whereas someone who is innocent would naturally go on the offensive. A person who is lying is not comfortable facing their questioner. For example, a lying would stand with their entire body or just their head turned away or to the side, or if they are sitting they might sit crooked in their seat. Someone who is lying subconsciously wants to build a wall between themselves and their accuser and this would cause them to place objects, such as a coffee cup or book, between themselves and the person questioning them.
The fourth and final area to watch for a lie is verbal context and content. Liars tend to use a portion of the question asked in their answer. In addition, someone who is lying tends not the use contractions in their responses. A person is who uncomfortable with the idea of lying may avoid doing so by not making direct statements. Someone who does not want to lie generally use implications instead of direct replies. Liars usually neglect to use pronouns in their speech and often speak in a monotonous tone. When a person is not tell the truth their words may come out confused and spoken softly, and their grammar and syntax may seem off. Put more simply, their sentences are more likely to be muddled rather than emphasized.
When detecting a lie it is very important to observe a combination of body language and other cues. Keep in mind that these cues only give the ability to make an educated guess as to whether a person is lying or not. Whenever it is possible, the above behaviors should be compared to a person’s normal behavior. Otherwise someone who has shifty eyes as a result of a lack of self-confidence and self-assurance could be taken as a cue for lying.
Temporary Boredom Relief. “How to Defect Lies” 2004-2010. (accessed November 19, 2010).