Become a Human Lie Detector: How to Sniff Out a Liar

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 8, 2010 · 55 comments

in Manly Skills, Tactical Skills

Have you ever been burned by somebody because they told you an outright lie? It can happen in your personal or business life-you’re on cloud nine when your girlfriend says she loves you, only to find out later she’s been cheating on you for months; a client says their business is solvent, but they end up bankrupt, and you lose a ton of money on an account.

Wouldn’t it be great to avoid these situations by being able to tell right then and there if someone is lying to you? Well, based on research by behavioral scientists and the work and experience of FBI agents and police officers, a system has been developed to help people become human lie detectors.

Below we provide a short introduction to the art of sniffing out a whopper. Ready to get started? Read on.

Caveat: Detecting lies is extremely difficult. It’s more of an art than a science. People can fool polygraph tests, so they can definitely fool you. There is no single behavior that indicates deception 100% of the time. Rather, detecting lies requires observing multiple behaviors and analyzing them using the surrounding context. Also, just because a person shows some of the signs we list below, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lying, just that they might be lying.

Catalog a Subject’s Pacifiers

The key to detecting deception is to recognize when people are uncomfortable. Generally, people who are being honest feel comfortable, while people who are lying feel stressed.

When we’re nervous or uncomfortable, we all unconsciously manifest our distress with the use of pacifiers. Like the name suggests, we use these gestures and body movements to help soothe and comfort ourselves in uncomfortable situations. Below is a short list of pacifiers many people display:

  • Face touching
  • Rubbing the back of the neck
  • Lip pursing
  • Hair stroking
  • Playing with jewelry
  • Covering the neck dimple (usually seen with women)
  • Eye blocking- closing eyes tightly or even covering eyes with hands
  • Rubbing palms on legs
  • Hand wringing

Every person has a different set of pacifying behaviors. Your goal at the beginning of a conversation is to know what pacifiers your potential liar uses. Once you know a person’s pacifiers, you can use that info to gauge their comfort and discomfort around certain topics.

Establish a Behavioral Baseline

Maybe somebody rubs the back of their neck all the time, not just when they’re lying. So in order to gauge someone’s level of comfort or discomfort, you need to establish a baseline for their behaviors. That way you’ll know when they deviate from it. Figuring out a person’s pacifiers is easy if you’re around them all time, but what if you’ve just met someone? How can you figure out the pacifiers of a potential employee in the short time you’re interviewing them? Well, most people display a bit of nervousness when they first meet new people, so you might see pacifying signs at the beginning of your encounter. Make note of them, so you can use them to read the person later in the conversation.

Again, just because a person shows signs of discomfort around a topic, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily lying. It just means you need to investigate that subject a bit more to find out the reason for the discomfort.

Get the Person Relaxed

After you’ve figured out the person’s pacifying gestures, get your subject relaxed and comfortable with you. Make small talk. A person will express their comfort with their body language. They’ll lean in closer to you, they’ll open up their suit coat, they won’t have folded arms, and their feet might be bouncing underneath the table. After you have the person relaxed, you can start asking the important questions. As you discuss certain topics, look for the pacifiers you identified earlier to reemerge. If they do, it could mean the person is lying to you.

Ask Specific, Non-suspicious Questions

Most people think that knowing the signs of deception is the only skill you need to sniff out a liar. Knowing the signs is necessary, but not sufficient; knowing what questions to ask and how to ask them is another vital skill to uncovering a fibber.

First, ensure that when you ask questions, you so do in a cool, detached, and non-judgmental way. If you go at a person NYPD Blue style, you’re bound to taint the subject; even an innocent person will act nervous if they’re accused of lying or feel pushed into a corner. So be nonchalant about the whole thing. You might even be surprised what comes out of a person’s mouth when they think you’re not suspicious of them.

What questions you should ask mostly depends on the context of the subject, but generally, the more specific your questions, the better. Vague questions will get you vague, unhelpful responses.

Look for Other Signs of Deception

In addition to pacifying behaviors, look for these other signs that you’re dealing with a liar:

Synchrony. When deciphering truth from lie, watching for synchrony is key. Synchrony is the proper alignment of what is said verbally and nonverbally, between events and emotions, and between the circumstances of the moment and what is being said.  For example, you normally expect a parent whose child is missing to be hysterical, begging for the police to get out there and find their baby. If a parent seems detached and aloof, something’s probably up.

Synchrony should also be present in the way a person moves their head. If a person’s head begins to shake either in the affirmative or in the negative as he speaks, and the movement occurs simultaneously with what he says, then you can typically rely on the veracity of the statement. However, if he does the head shake after he makes the statement, the statement is most likely false. You might even notice a person verbally saying “yes,” but shaking their head “no.” If what they say from their mouth doesn’t match with what their body says, you have a liar on your hands.

Little or no movement. Ever notice how animals will freeze when a predator is near? This instinctual behavior actually serves a survival benefit; it’s hard for predators to see something if it’s not moving. Well, humans do the same thing during moments of distress. When people lie, they tend to keep their body very still. The imminent danger in this case is getting caught lying. So our lizard brain will tell our body not to move, because maybe, just maybe, if we stay still, the other person won’t see that we’re lying. Got a friend who’s pulling a possum? Dude might be lying.

Lack of emphasis. When we speak, we naturally give emphasis both verbally and non-verbally to what we say. Hand gestures, inflections, and head movements accentuate our words. However, most of this happens unconsciously. When our limbic brain backs up what we’re saying, we’ll unconsciously use body language to  emphasize it. When our unconscious brain doesn’t back up what we’re saying, those emphasizing gestures will not be present. An innocent person accused of murder will probably pound their fist and yell, “I didn’t do it!” You probably won’t see that with a person who actually committed the crime (despite the show you see the guilty put on on Law & Order).

Are their palms up? One interesting hand gesture that individuals who lie tend to use is the rogatory position, or speaking with their palms faced up. People tend to do this when they want you to believe what they’re saying. It’s like supplicating in prayer. People who tell the truth don’t need to ask to be believed, so they won’t take on the rogatory position, and their palms will be facing down.

Check eye direction. When people concentrate on something visual, they tend to look upwards. If they look up and to their right, it means they’re concentrating on something visual that they’re remembering from their past. If they look up and to their left, it means they’re focusing on something they’ve created in their minds. So if the person you’re talking with looks up and to the left as they recollect what happened, they may be making up the story right there on the spot. Although you’d think they’d turn and look down and behind, since that’s where they’re pulling things out of.

Note: Remember that eye directions are based on the subject’s right and left. So when you’re watching them, when they look right it will look like they’re looking to your left, and when they look left, it will appear from your perspective that they’re looking right.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Reading non-verbal behavior is a skill that will take a long time to truly master. Start paying more attention to the subtleties in your daily conversation, and eventually you’ll become a walking, talking lie detector.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris January 8, 2010 at 1:29 am

Great stuff! Some new and some old, on the ‘checking eye direction’ part is one of the classics, but from my experience it changes from person to person. I usually try to establish a base line when asking questions first to see how their eyes move to basic stuff. If the person is left-handed it actually is the exact opposite motions. Just thought I’d might add cause I have two left-handed siblings and didn’t want people to falsely judge lefty’s.

But all and all a good post and an even better blog! I’ve enjoyed your work and look forward to future posts :)

2 Sarah Joy Albrecht January 8, 2010 at 1:54 am

Great post. Excellent point about establishing a baseline… which you need a person to be relaxed in order to do.

As a parent of five children, I’ve seen the gambit of lying techniques employed by my children to try to get out of trouble…. and they really are no different from what adults do.

My one son, age 4, pulls his hair when he’s lying. Once, I said, “I can tell you’re lying! You’re pulling his hair.” So, he took some scissors later that day and cut the part of hair that he pulls when he’s lying right down to the scalp. Stinker.

One tactic of liars is to try to worm their way out by changing the definitions — relegating their “truth” , or, the hearer’s perception, to ” a matter of semantics”. Can you shed some light on how to get to the heart of the truth in a situation like this?

Sarah Joy Albrecht

3 Richard | January 8, 2010 at 4:27 am

The “Baseline” technique is a good one. People may fidget and you think they’re a liar when they’re just a person who fidgets all the time. Little or no movement is a good one too. People tend to stay still to try and give absolutely nothing away when in fact they’re giving everything away! Great post, loved it.

4 Sir Lancelot January 8, 2010 at 5:02 am

The problem with lie-detecting technique is that they are based on detecting signs of nervousness or disconfort, and that is a flawed premise. People not only feel uncomfortable when they’re not telling the truth. Actually one commonly feel uncomfortable when they’re telling an uncomfortable truth. Imagine you’re asked out of the blue by a stranger when was the last time you had sex. Even if you tell the truth you’re likely to show signs of discomforrt because it’s an uncomfortable situation. In the same way someone who’s being questioned by the police or testifying in court is likely to show those signs even when they’re telling the truth.

5 Al January 8, 2010 at 6:45 am

WRT the synchrony thing… in some cultures shaking the head and nodding are the other way around. I know that – in parts of – India people shake their head when they mean ‘yes’. Something to remember when dealing from people who aren’t from ‘the west’.

6 Graham Hutson January 8, 2010 at 7:06 am

Crikey I do all of that stuff during normal conversation! People must think I’m an out and out fraud! This is as much a tipsheet on how to behave as it is on detecting a liar.

Another fine post

7 Patrick H. Ouzts January 8, 2010 at 8:03 am

This might seem a bit obvious, but no one has mentioned examining the factual validity of a potential lie. As an attorney, we learn to to spot minor inconsitencies. For example, a client syas they were discriminated against at work. I asked what day did that happen for the first time, and when I check the calendar, I discover that date was a Saturday. Suddenly there are holes to the story.

In short, when a statement seems a little off, it probably is. Spot a lie with factual due dilligence. And remember, as a man, trust is earned

8 aouweh4trajenb January 8, 2010 at 8:22 am

the afirmative in Spanish cultures is to shake the head side to side, something most hispanic and latinos do in America.

Just as noding the head downward is an strong negative, the opposite of the American positive.

head nods must be used in the context of the cultural and ethnic background of the person using them.

9 fishmonger January 8, 2010 at 9:24 am

All of this works really well until one is talking to someone mildly autistic, which in the IT world is pretty common.

10 John January 8, 2010 at 9:27 am

Regarding the ‘checking eye direction’ bit, I must agree with Chris — this is too individual to be a reliable sign. As I discovered (i.e., had pointed out to me by an experienced counsellor), I personally look down and to the left when recalling the past — especially the painful past (the counsellor noted that he looks to the left at eye level). (An interesting thing here was that he encouraged me to reshape how I think of painful past memories by looking up and to the right — away from the “painful memory” direction — while stating aloud what the memory was and that I was letting it go.)

11 Robert January 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

This stuff is no more scientific or accurate than astrology, which is indeed not astronomy (the science).

It’s pretty easy to fake, which is why it’s generally not worth anything. The easiest strategy is to mess up the evaluators baseline. By faking a nervous personality you essentially throw off the entire system. That’s why it’s often stereotyped “it’s always the quiet ones”. Criminals have known this for years. Some take it a step further and play mental so they can plead insanity if all else fails.

If it had any science or accuracy this stuff would be admissible in court, but generally it doesn’t fly… you need actual evidence.

That said, Polygraphs aren’t necessary that as inaccurate as pop culture makes them out to be. They aren’t admissible in court mostly due to lack of understanding. It’s somewhat more difficult to control things like heartbeat. The biggest problem is that operators need lots of training. It’s not something you pick up in a few hundred hours. It takes years to become good at it. It’s possible to fake, but not nearly as easy as one would think.

Even more interesting is how inaccurate DNA tests can be. In most states (possibly still all) there is no standard training for technicians. Meaning literally anyone with little or no training can be a “DNA expert” in the eyes of the court. This is why so many cases have controversial. While TV shows like CSI make it out to be a quick simple foolproof computerized system, it’s hardly the case. From collection to analysis procedure must be literally perfect. On the other hand most fast food restaurants have very structured training and testing for burger flippers.

Bottom line: look beyond the surface, examine the full picture. It’s easy to deceive.

12 Kevin ( January 8, 2010 at 10:04 am

Sometimes I can just sense when someone is not telling me the truth. Don’t know if it is body language that we subconsciously detect or something else. Maybe it is a combination of things. But I’ve also been lied to and didn’t catch it.

One problem is that some sociopaths just don’t have any emotional discomfort with lying.

13 fred January 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

“Polygraphs aren’t necessary that as inaccurate as pop culture makes them out to be.”
They are more inaccurate than pop culture makes them out to be. Better off flipping a coin.

14 Nate @ Practical Manliness January 8, 2010 at 11:06 am

Great points!

I would emphasis the importance of trust to building relationships.

While correct recognition of lies is important, lasting relationships are build by trust.

Thanks for the great post!

15 Trevor B January 8, 2010 at 11:09 am

Penn and Tellers show did a bit on polygraphs, they were able to get people to fool professional polygraph readers the very first time they were polygraphed, which tells me that lie detectors really are worthless

16 Mr Miyagi January 8, 2010 at 11:33 am

Best thing is just go with your gut feeling. I use to be a very good liar, back when I was a player in college and dating 3-4 women all at the same time (maybe more). I had them all believing I was a different person (I even lived with one of them) and had 3 different names and stories and It was insane. Nothing is worth the trouble of living a lie because then you have to convince yourself it is true and it messes with your head… Fortunately I learned my lesson and I changed my ways many years ago found that telling the truth sets you free. I guess because I learned to be such a good liar I can usually tell when someone is lying to me about themselves.

17 Ian January 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

“Polygraphs aren’t necessary that as inaccurate as pop culture makes them out to be. They aren’t admissible in court mostly due to lack of understanding.”

Polygraph results are sometimes admissible. They aren’t more widely admissible because they aren’t nearly accurate enough. (The National Academy of Sciences described the level of accuracy as “well above chance, though well below perfection”.)

18 WeaselMomma January 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm

This was very interesting.

19 Jay January 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm
20 Mark January 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Here is helpful tool I learned as a supervisor. A sure fire way to detect someone who is not telling the truth when multiple people are blaming each other from a problem that has occured at work is to mention to each person that you want them to put down on paper what happened in a chronological order as best they can – Time frame from begining to end of the events one right after another. Important! first let everyone tell their story orally to you then lower the boom on them after your conversation with each one that you want them to put in writing what they said (their version) as explained above. The fibber of the group will immediately become angry, or uneasy because they lose control (security) of their subjective thinking and feel they are in a corner and will be caught. The moral truth is always in the objective. Live there and be transformed by God.

21 Playstead January 8, 2010 at 2:42 pm

While none of these are spot on — they can be a good starting place. I’ve heard about most of those tips, but hadn’t heard about palms up. Interesting. Also, establishing a baseline is a great point.

22 Shmikey January 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Dilating eyes are also a good sign that the person is lying, and since eye dilation is so hard to avoid, poker players will where sunglasses to avoid being detected while trying to bluff.

23 Octane January 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

The eye trick is based on brain dominance, and this article doesn’t get it right, if I understand the author correctly. If you are right-handed, memories are accessed by looking up and to the left. If you are left-handed, it’s the opposite. Anything else means a fabrication. Down and away always indicates shame.

Never Be Lied To Again by David J. Lieberman is an excellent book which I recommend.

24 Octane January 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

As well, polygraphs are *terrible*. Law enforcement uses them as a parlour trick to scare people, playing on the public’s misunderstandings.

25 James January 8, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for this article… I take caution on not being too suspicious of other people lying. But this has been a great write-up. I’m a counselor in an exclusive school for boys, and I get to chat with them a lot of times. This will help me somehow if I have to believe them, or suspend my judgment. :-)

26 Debbie M January 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm

@Sarah Joy Albrecht, to get around technical truths, you’ll have to ask more specific questions. When you ask a question and get a suspiciously truthful seeming answer, try to think whether there is any way to interpret your question to truthfully give the wrong answer and work from there.

For example, don’t just ask, “Did you have sex with that woman?” That question could, to some people, be referring only to intercourse. So also ask “Did you try for an orgasm with that woman?”

27 Alison January 8, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I have a very different attitude about lying than most people, I suspect. I expect to be lied to. I think lying is a normal part of life. Most people lie most of the time, otherwise we’d all go insane. The truth is not only not entirely necessary, it’s damned inconvenient, not to mention a burden to place on others who now have to hear how awful your life is. ;-) Unless you’re married to someone, why would it matter what they do or don’t do in their spare moments when your installed cameras don’t catch their movements in that dark corner? And if you are married to someone, and you find out they’re cheating on you, I’d first ask yourself what you might have done to contribute to the problem. People are too focused on being lied to, like it’s the worst thing that can happen to you. It really isn’t. Being told the truth all the time is tedious at best, boorish at worst.

28 Jake January 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm

I agree with Sir Lancelot. There is no detecting lies, only detecting stress or discomfort. My mom used to do this to me all the time… stare me down until I started flinching and squirming, then conclude I did it and punished me accordingly. I was also in the car with a (totally innocent) friend of mine who was nervous when the boarder patrol asked him a couple questions. The result was we all had to wait in a room for at least an hour and a half while they searched everything, all because they assumed everybody except a criminal would be perfectly comfortable.

I think trying to detect lies and otherwise manipulate everybody you know into establishing a baseline or scrutinizing their facial ticks will make you a paranoid wreck.

29 Peter January 9, 2010 at 5:33 am

This is neat article and there are two things I should add to:

As you wrote it is very difficult to tell someone is laying as what for one is sign of lying may be for others perfectly normal hones behavior. Most of sings actually says that person does not want to look like a liar so even people with lack of confidence or just for any other reason afraid that others may think they are lying, will show these signs.

Those two points now:
1) Eye direction when remembering might work quite well, however it is person-specific so there is no rule like “left is remember” and “right is imagine”. You have to find out first where the person will look when remembering something specific (what you know is truth) to know where that person have “remember” or “imagine” sides.

2) Lack of emphasis might be especially tricky. Some people are calmer than others. For example, I have not been in such situation, but I do not think that, if accused of murder, I would shout or something like that (it does not help with situation, anyway). This might be excpected behaviour, but mostly because it is seen too often in TV (where producers have to copy existing behaviour in order to be “authentic” to audience).

30 Lowell Gurtney January 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm

“People who tell the truth don’t need to ask to be believed”

Not necessarily true. There are people who are used to not being believed even when they’ve told the truth. There are others who fear they may not be believed (whether they will be or not) even though truth is on their side. These will LOOK like they’re lying, according to this article. Detecting lies is far more complex than this article and similar books and programs would let on. Some clues can be had, yes, but a lot of this is guesswork and hokum.

And the bottom line is, there are people who have mastered the lie – some naturally, it seems. They could conceivably fool anyone, even lie detecting “experts.” If you choose to lie, and want to lie well, it really isn’t that hard; you just need to think ahead.

31 Bjartur January 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Haven’t read all the comments here, so don’t know if this has been said already. But remember that eye movement is largely individual, so you might get one person who looks up and to the left when creating a visual image and another person who looks up and to the right when doing the same thing. So you’ll have to establish a baseline beforehand if you want to use this in your consideration.

32 Sarah Joy Albrecht January 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm

@Debbie M Good point about more specific questions. Questioning can be pretty tedious when someone is bent on evading being caught, yes?!

@Alison After years of having the mindset that everyone was lying, I realized that I was becoming pretty cynical. I can usually tell when someone is lying, although finding the exact truth can be difficult sometimes as I’m surrounded by a bunch of technical truth-tellers, as Debbie coined. I realized that, unless someone is clearly lying, I cannot be faulted for trusting people in every day life. It usually comes back to bite them anyway. I do my best to be honest and truthful, even if the truth isn’t always pretty. I find that when I deal with people truthfully, they reciprocate with truth.

A question — does that way that you treat others (shaming, exploding, gossiping, criticizing, etc.) make them more inclined to lie to you?

33 Brian January 10, 2010 at 10:39 am

Reading eye position, a technique that is part of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is not nearly as simple as presented here. It is true that looking up denotes visualization, however, right is not always remembered and left is not always created. Which side is which varies from person to person. To figure it out ask an innocuous question that requires them to remember something visually (A good example is “What color shirt did you wear yesterday?”). The other thing to note is that a person may not regularly operate in their visual system. They may operate in auditory (hearing) which is denoted by looking side to side (like they are looking at their ears), or in their kinisthetic system which includes touch, taste, smell, and emotions, and is denoted by looking down. For auditory which side is remembered and which side is created will be the same as it is for visual (to double check ask the person to hear their favorite song in their mind). Kinesthetic is not divided into remembered and created sides and will always be located below auditory created. the remaining position (below auditory remembered) is something called auditory digital, this is where people go when they are talking to themselves in their head. For more information on eye movement and NLP I recommend you visit as it provides a good overview.

34 Joe January 12, 2010 at 1:45 am

You can do all that… or you can work as a high school teacher. After a few years of being lied to practically on a daily basis by unrepentant teens, you’ll either become an expert or a burnout statistic!

35 Tim January 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

A polygraph is an interrogation technique, nothing more. They try to sell it as more, but it is not. If you really must know the truth and a person really must tell you, paying attention to body language will reveal that deception is happening, but not why. It will tell you where to start checking facts. You can sniff out a liar, but be careful to start your inquiries with a pat-down.

36 Bruce Williamson January 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Brett and I had a bit of a disagreement upon my comments for this article. Plainly put he pulled my comment as not being constructive. It is not that I wasn’t being constructive; I simply like to boil things down. This time apparently it was too much. After a brief e-mail exchange I decided that I would take him up on providing ancillary and rebuttal information. My opinion of the article has not changed it might as well have been entitled “How to Be a Refrigerator”. Understand that I do like AoM very much and I wish that there was a possibility of a book signing in the Philadelphia area (maybe Brett would bring the family to Philly to see the birthplace of our country and get a personal tour from me. We supposedly have the largest Dave & Busters in the country.)

In this comment I will admit that I am speaking from authority and from memory as I am simply too lazy to dig through my library to find the books for reference. I have an extensive library and most of it is packed away. So, if you think that I am “full of it” take some solace that you may be right. One reference which comes to mind is Body Language. It was published in the 70’s and was a work which brought the subject to the public eye.

My main points of contention are the pacifiers and signs of deception areas of the article. All body moments have to be taken in context and evaluated to tell if the person is being truthful. Even after determining a baseline the entire context has to be evaluated. An example is wrist flashing. It can mean supplication. It can also mean attraction or openness. Women flash their wrists if they are attracted to the person they are with. The other parts of the body language (BL) have to be present. Are the legs crossed indicating a more closed BL? What was the arm position immediately before the wrist flash? Did the person have their arms folded and then flash or not? Is the person leaning forward or backward? Someone lying tends to move further away. Eye directing is not as simple as stated as some people actually look straight up. It’s not as much an art as it is to read the entire “sentence”.

Another area not covered in the article is the ethnic background of the person. In some cultures, notably sub-Saharan Africa, it is considered disrespectful to look at someone who is the authority figure. This was shown very well in the film Blood Diamond when the group is caught by rebels.

It’s Written on Your Face

The most reliable method for determining if a person is lying (no it’s NOT water boarding) is simply to read their face as they speak the answer. The initial facial expression is involuntary. Look straight at the person and ask a question. Their facial expression will change and then revert as they answer. This is a simplification but is the basic premise. This method was pioneered and developed by Dr. Paul Eckman. Dr.Eckman originally was studying facial expressions and discovered that some people can read the faces of others unbelievably well. He also discovered a connection between your expression and your actual emotion. Emotions affect the facial expression and the facial expression affects the emotion. Dr. Eckman has written several books on this subject and teaches police officers to read a person’s face. His work and courses are the inspiration for the television show Lie to Me.

The Bottom Line

A sociopathic liar will almost always beat the lie detector and any other method or skill. Actors are good liars as they practice mastering the facial expressions and BL needed to be effective in their art.

If you really want to be able to sniff out a liar then you must study people and cultures before applying your skills. You must amass a good deal of reference materials. And then you must practice by interacting with people.

37 Carducci January 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm

That skill would be pretty useful to wives!

38 Suits January 22, 2010 at 1:26 am

This is a very good skill and can be used in all cases! WIves and co-workers

39 James Withey February 28, 2010 at 4:51 pm

This is great for most people, but it is not the same for everyone, a person that firmly believes the lie such as a pathological liar might fool you. It is the search for the truth that will unravel the story as well as inconsistencies.
Besides I am a father and retired Correctional Officer well used to deception.

40 Amjad May 27, 2010 at 2:26 am

Hello everyone fairly new here (community and comments), just wanted to say on the eye direction it also depends if the person is right or left handed or right handed but mainly uses his left and vice versa, best is that they’re calm, and if they’re already calm then it’s just facial expressions, and facial expressions when they move their head in a different direction or when they move and look back at you (I’m sure everyone in the whole world knows the eye contact thing and abuse it to the point of eyes wide open like they just got a fix or trying to see in the dark….oh yeah lit room) and tone of voice.

41 mike June 9, 2010 at 2:29 am

what nonsense

42 miroslav June 9, 2010 at 4:51 am

Yes, we can detect lies in many others quite often. Yes, psychopaths seem to be able to disconect their own physiology from what they know are their own lies. Julius Fast’s Body Language was fascinating , but for me had one giant flaw: his notions concerning what he called ” masking”. He posited that if your facial expression is at variance with what you’re ‘ really feeling inside’, you are masking. So, if you are angry and smiling you are somehow faking something which experts and authorities can easily spot. Absolutely hilarious.
Funnier yet is this notion of a polygraph. This squiggly line means you are a liar; and see here this other one is your physiological response from when we asked you your name. They are different— you can see that yourself, right?— so WE KNOW you are a liar. The universities of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Boston, along with UCLA have conducted studies which roundly shred the idea of polygraph results even being interpretable but we’ll overlook that because the american polygraphers assn states clearly that they work. Earlier posters stated they were parlour tricks and interrogation technique; not science—nailed it. Companies like to use them to select a “thief” employee for termination. The retired fed or cop picks the most nervous subject as the thief and the company fires him. What happens if the retired fed or cop polygrapher doesn’t find deception on anyone’s test? Not going to happen. Would you then pay the polygrapher for his time now that you know there is no thief and you just imagined something was stolen? Of course not. The polygrapher has to pick one. That will be the one with squiggly lines that can be shown to the big boss.
Funnier yet is any suggestion that NLP is anything other than a con and a psycho-cult. ” You looked up and to your right so we know you’re a liar”. Did we arrive at that via solid scientific research or are we taking the word of an expert authority? Third choice is , are we taking the word of the unseen founder of our cult— because to go against that means you are a lightweight who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Question it and you are bad;after all, various governments around the world have bought into this pure bs just as handily as they buy handwriting analysis—- and governments are authorities above question.
Then, there is face reading. Very old art from several cultures including India, China, and Roma. Along comes someone with a PHD who has done actual research and developed a system of facial expression interpretation. Then comes a profoundly fake tv show with very good actors; which lets you know you shouldn’t ever lie to daddy because daddy is an expert and you wont get away with it. ROFLAO. Yet again the unexamined notion of the fancy-expert-from-afar who has vast insight into the human mind. All arguments promoting this are appeals to authority. Squeak out against this mindset and you’ll hear: YOU dont even HAVE a PHD—-you haven’t read the literature but we have—-where have you studied—- you’re just saying that because you’ve never done the research we have etc etc etc. Hollywood and Government Authorities just love this tripe—- because they need for you to believe it. But the science of lie detection? It’s art ; not science. That’s why lawyers, carnies, and poker players are the best lie detectors— not shrinkrappers with their little-bo-peep diplomas and their alleged “research” done with subjective criteria, statistically insignificant numbers for both test and control groups, “clinical observation”, and deeply authoritarian air of expertise.

43 Adam June 9, 2010 at 7:53 am

One interesting area already being researched with signs of success is ‘brain fingerprinting’.

In essence it works by revealing things that only the guilty would know. This sparks involuntary recognition in the brain. Hooked up to suitable equipment it’s impossible to avoid.

For example if the witnesses say the bank robber yelled “Drop to the floor!” you can show a sequence of words:

Get down, now!
Hit the floor!
Drop to the floor!
Everybody down!

At the correct one, the guilty’s brain will react to recognizing it.

You can use your imagination for other examples but things such as photos of the type of underwear of a rape victim, if distinctive, the particular knife used etc.

An area this research is desperately needed is for “know each other” rape cases, where he said/she said is often the only real evidence.

The laws are so biased, as are most juries, that men need a good way of proving when women are lying.

44 Dan June 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

These and other techniques already deny a basic human need, possibly a natural right, which is to have one’s speech taken as essentially honest. Here, a person’s responses or statements are questioned according to arbitrary criteria based on common behavior and demeanor, and self-evidently absurd. Valid criteria mentioned are obvious to any ten-year-old. Such techniques are also an unwarranted presumption of dishonesty. Application implies a paranoid or totalitarian mind in the absence of objective evidence such as prior history of lying, or improbability. Richelieu said something like, Give me any five sentences a man utters, and I can have him hanged for it. These days, interrogators in law enforcement and the law are likely to be nearly-illiterate morons willing to hang someone for the nervous behavior described in the article, which, incidentally, omits mentioning that a person meticulously scrutinizing another in this fashion will be taken for a liar or paranoid fool himself.

Wellman’s “Art of Cross-examination,” although very dated, gives the tried and true methods of eliciting false testimony in an engrossing format that reads like a novel. Jerry Spence has written his version, “How to Win Every Argument,” which reads like a handbook for courtroom sleazebags, just like Spence himself. A skilled courtroom interrogator will draw out inconsistencies discrediting the entire testimony with a few deft strokes. Such men are virtually non-existent today; hence, the need to browbeat, bully, and resort to this pathetic pseudo-science to get at the truth.

45 Paul June 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Of course, this does not work for the majority of people who believe their own lies. If you are interested in that subject, read “The Blank Slate.” We all have the ability to lie to ourselves, often quite convincingly.

46 Viz-Fact June 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I love it, it may be hocus pocus, then it may not be, but it certainly sounds right and will be alot of fun to play with.

47 Richard Rivers June 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm

The “eye trick” has nothing to do with “brain dominance” and both the article and Octane don’t get it right.

There is absolutely no science to back up the common belief that there’s a left-vs-right deception cue. There simply isn’t. There’s no such thing as right/left brained. Lying isn’t done by one and not the other. People do NOT characteristically look one way when recalling and the other when fabricating. Gazing to the left or the right is simply gazing to the left or the right. Everyone does it, for many different reasons.

That being said, gazing DOWN is almost always a submissive sign (it’s culturally universal, as well), which can be taken as a deception cue IF AND ONLY IF the person is ashamed of lying. Which, thankfully, is usually the case. Note however that people can be ashamed of what they say without it being a lie, and can be submissive in a conversation without being ashamed or lying.

Related to the gaze-down is the look-down, where the subjects entire head begins to point downward along with the eyes. This means the same thing, only more so. It’s a stronger form of the gesture, but that can’t translate into more certainty on your part that the subject is lying. More emphasis is not the same thing as more certainty.

48 Dyre42 July 17, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Its worth nothing that its almost impossible to to detect a lie if the person who is telling it also believes it. There’s a certain type of person that slightly changes the events in a story slightly so with every retelling they become less at fault and more the hero or victim. By the time they get to the “I was completely blameless/entirely in the right.” version of their story they believe every word they say.

49 Ian August 12, 2010 at 10:48 am

I think the more important question is why is the person is lying to you

50 Meet October 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

Eyes can b the best teller of lie or truth….jst see the pupil size n u wil came to knoe….

51 Chris April 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm

regarding eye positioning:
I can’t site the source right now, and perhaps will when I get a moment, but I recall an author (maybe Paul Ekman) saying that people will look the opposite direction of their dominant hand when recalling memories.

I work closely with many patients at a rehab clinic. I have to decipher if patients are telling the truth regarding therapy.. When asked more detailed oriented questions, It never fails that they look opposite direction of their dominant hand. I often test it with data that is already established and correct, but might involve recall on their part. I’ve tried it with most of my family.

52 Kelly May 28, 2013 at 11:33 am

I had a person lying down and relaxed and when a comment was made he wiggled his feet. Is this a sign that he was lying when he spoke?

53 David Thomas October 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

This was the precursor to the Chase Hughes thing that came out. I love this article.
The sherlock chase hughes thing is supposed to replace this?

54 Seth November 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

One of the things I was trained to look for is “clusters” of non-verbal cues, like the ones mentioned above. For example: crossing your arms is not necessarily indicative of dishonesty, but crossing your arms and slightly turning away from the interviewer are big red flags.

55 Steve December 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I thought the explanation “Check eye direction” was vague that used the term “the left” rather than “THEIR LEFT” or “YOUR LEFT” .See below where I pasted your text and inserted a note: “Check eye direction. When people concentrate on something visual, they tend to look upwards. If they look up and to their right, it means they’re concentrating on something visual that they’re remembering from their past. If they look up and to their left, it means they’re focusing on something they’ve created in their minds. So if the person you’re talking with looks up and to the left


as they recollect what happened, they may be making up the story right there on the spot. Although you’d think they’d turn and look down and behind, since that’s where they’re pulling things out of.”

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