The Art and Science of Lying (Part 1) - The Eyes

We don't need to be a mind-reader or even know the person closely to identify if someone is lying to us. Of course, it does help to know a person's behaviour under normal circumstances, in order to be arrive at a baseline for comparison. But not always do we have the luxury of baseline, especially when dealing with new people.

The Language of The Eyes - The Primary Step to Lie Detection

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The ability to read the language of the eyes is very crucial in mastering the art of lie detection. To be an accurate human lie detector, you need to be astute in your observations while a person is speaking, watch out for tell-tale signs and be able to draw quick inferences out of them.

Eye Contact

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It is not for nothing that the eyes are known as the mirror of the mind. Eyes can not only give away hidden feelings and thoughts, inconsistency in the way a person uses his eyes can give away a lot more than intended.

  • Most poor and moderately-skilled liars subconsciously try to avoid making eye contact when telling a lie. To make it look normal, they pretend to be looking at something else, in some other direction, rub their eyes or blink frequently, so that they don't need to look at you, or they can look at you as little as possible.

  • Highly skilled liars know that avoiding eye contact looks suspicious, and try to maintain persistent eye contact while fabricating a story. This is done to appear convincing and less deceitful.

  • However, continuous eye contact is a huge mistake too, if the listener is well-versed with body language. People trying to recall real memories or facts tend to look away for a brief moment while accessing their thoughts. A heavily persistent gaze, therefore, means that the person is not recalling real facts but more likely cooking up stuff.

FACT: Never confuse the occasional break of eye contact with a lie, the person might be simply be trying to remember things before answering your question correctly. In fact, it is far more fishy if the eye contact never breaks.

Eye Movements

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Studies reveal that people tend to look to their right when lying and to their left when recalling actual incidents. The reason behind this is - the right side of our brain controls emotional and creative thinking, along with memories, while the left side controls logical and analytical thinking. Since the left brain controls the right side's body movements and vice versa, and lying involves heavy logic and alertness, we look towards the right when lying. The rule is reversed for left-handed people.

FACT: While the above reasoning makes a lot of medical sense, the eye direction approach is NOT foolproof and must NOT be used to arrive at a conclusion.

Let us not forget that lying also requires creativity and imagination, which means we might also look to the left when lying. On the other hand, a person telling the truth may simply be struggling to form a sentence or explain something in the right way, and might look to the right in the process. Therefore, this approach does not guarantee accuracy and may vary from based on individuals and situations.

Pupil Dilation

It is a clinically proven fact that the pupil of the eyes tend to dilate when lying, due to anxiety and stress at the possibility of getting caught. As long as the lighting is constant and not too bright, dilating pupils in a person could indicate that he is exaggerating or fabricating his story.

FACT: Note that I said "could indicate" because pupil dilation can be caused by several other factors. Widening of eyes can be caused due to attraction, surprise, amusement, interest and even intake of drugs or alcohol. Pupil dilation is therefore never an approach to be used on its own to identify a lie.

We should always consider factors like our surrounding ambience, the person we are dealing with, the conversation at hand and the presence of other interesting objects or people who could be invoking our speaker's interest.

How to be a Good Liar - Eye Training

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Finally, we come to the most awaited part. Now that we know the signs of what gives away a liar, let us see how we can train ourselves so that others cannot apply the same rules to us :)

Note that I am not condoning deception, not at all. I am merely saying that certain situations arise in life that forces us to lie in order to save ourselves a world of trouble. In such cases, we must be able to make the lie count, without getting exposed.

  • Maintain a steady eye contact when telling your lie, while occasionally looking away as you would if you were to genuinely access your memory of facts.

  • Don't be too persistent in your gaze.

  • When looking away, gaze in both directions - to your left and right, up and down. Even the best of human lie-detectors will get confused if you look away in multiple directions.

  • Do not rub your eyes, squint, blink too much or do anything that you usually do not do while speaking. If the person knows you well enough, he or she might catch on to your deceit.

Remember that these skills take months of conscious practice and a good amount of mind control. If you are having a legal or a law enforcement career, chances are that you have already mastered these skills. Of course, here comes my favourite line - if you are a sociopath, you will be naturally good at telling lies because pathological lying will be one of your main personality traits.

© 2015 Ritu Temptor

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Comments 2 comments

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 15 months ago from Oklahoma

The eyes are the window to the soul. Great read.


temptor94 profile image

temptor94 15 months ago from India Author

Thanks Larry.

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