How To Spot A Liar - NLP Eye Accessing Cues

Eye Accessing Cue Chart


We've all been in a similar situation. You're having a conversation with someone, but for some reason, you find it hard to believe they're speaking the complete truth...

Wouldn't it be nice if you could tell whether or not someone was lying to you? Well, here's an interesting technique you can use in everyday situations. It's been used by the police and military for decades in interrogations and interviews.

The technique was developed in the 1970's by Richard Bandler as part of a system called NLP (neuro linguistic programming).

The Negotiator (1998) - why you shouldn't lie to a cop.

NLP - A Very Brief History

NLP was created in the early 1970's by academics Richard Bandler and John Grinder who had a mutual interest in psychology, linguistics and the empirical sciences. NLP (neuro linguistic programming) is a collection of observations, scientific research and practical exercises designed to help individuals to become more effective communicators.

Today, NLP is practiced widely in many areas including:

  • counselling and psychotherapy
  • business, sales and management
  • personal development
  • life coaching

NLP is about practise, not theory

Unlike other academic subjects, NLP is a practical methodology. One of the most important principles being "modelling". NLP modelling is basically observing and copying a persons behaviour, language and belief systems in order to improve upon your own habits and ways of doing things. You can use NLP as a tool in daily life to assist and overcome many issues such as:

  • personal rapport with friends and colleagues
  • confidence and emotional intelligence
  • negative thought patterns
  • curing phobias, weight loss, depression

NLP techniques are simple and designed so that anyone can use them to make positive changes to their lives.

The Theory Behind Eye Accessing Cues

In 1977 Robert Dilts, an early proponent of NLP, conducted a study, at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in San Francisco. He was attempting to correlate a person's eye movements to specific processes in the brain. Subjects were asked questions related to the various senses of sight, hearing and feeling, memory and mental construction.

According to Dilts, these automatic and unconscious eye movements often accompany particular thought processes. By asking an individual the right questions and observing their accompanying eye movements, it's possible to get an insight into their non-verbal thought processes.

The results of the experiment are some of the most well known, if controversial, discoveries of NLP, and potentially one of the most valuable.

How To Test Eye Accessing Cues

According to the research, our eyes automatically move in a certain direction, depending on which 'senses' we are using.

For instance, when we try to remember something visually, our eyes tend to go up and to the left. When we try to construct a mental picture of something that doesn't exist, our eyes tend to go up and to the right.

The same principle applies to your sense of hearing (auditory), feeling ( kinesthetic - touch, smell and taste) and internal dialogue. To test these responses, sit down with a friend and tell them you want to try a little thought experiment. Watch their eye movements in response to the questions listed below. The important thing thing is the thought process, not the answers.

Questions involving visual memory (remembering images)

  • What colour is your front door?
  • Which of your friends has the longest hair?
  • How tall is your office building?
  • Which way do the stripes go round on a tiger?

Questions involving visual construction (constructing mental images)

  • If you turn a map upside-down, which direction is south-east?
  • Imagine a purple square inside a red triangle.
  • What would your bedroom look like with yellow spotted wallpaper?

Questions involving auditory memory (remembering sounds)

  • Is the 3rd note in the national anthem higher or lower than the 2nd note?
  • What is the sound of the busy tone on the telephone?
  • Which door slams the loudest in your house?

Questions involving auditory construction (constructing mental sounds)

  • What would your voice sound like underwater?
  • What sound would a piano make dropped off a ten storey building?
  • Imagine your favourite song played at double speed.

Questions involving internal dialogue

  • What tone of voice do you use to talk to yourself?
  • Silently recite a nursery rhyme
  • What words do you say to yourself when things go wrong?

Questions involving kinesthetic senses ( touch, taste, smell )

  • What does it feel like to put on wet socks
  • Which is warmer now, your left or right hand?
  • Think of the smell of ammonia.

Does It Work?

The big question is, do eye accessing cues work?

In my experience, I've had varying success when, I've tested my friends although there are many factors which can influence a person's thought processes.

For example, a question related to a visual image may trigger other sensory thoughts resulting in confusing eye tracking patterns. Also, some of the eye movements you're looking for may be micro-events, ie just a tiny flicker in the movement of the eyeballs. This can be very hard to spot without training and experience.

The only way to find out is to try is for yourself. Try out some tests on your friends to see if the theory holds up with them.

One of the best ways to observe eye patterns is by watching the TV news. Politicians being interviewed and crime-scene eye-witnesses reveal hidden depths of information if you know what to look for.


Communication is not just about verbal exchange. Body language, voice tone and many other factors we're unaware of come into play a huge part in every human interaction.

Eye accessing cues are a window to a person's mental and emotional landscape. These eye movements unconsciously communicate our inner thoughts and desires to the outside world. By becoming familiar with the patterns, you'll be better equipped in your everyday interactions with friends and colleagues.

Example of Eye Accessing Questions

Comments 6 comments

DJ 6 years ago

Your eye cue chart appears to be labeled back a__wards: the "Left" and "Right" labels are on the wrong eyes!

modeca profile image

modeca 6 years ago Author

Hi DJ, the diagram is labelled from the viewers perspective, not the person in the picture - it's bit like the theatre terminology - stage left, stage right etc.

serialkisser4u profile image

serialkisser4u 6 years ago

given a lot abt NLP...thank u. Surely looking fr more stuff..

sunchild28 profile image

sunchild28 5 years ago from Nigeria

Modeca,honestly am so much pleased with this interesting article of yours which really made me to laugh a number of times while reading this article.Thanks dear for this info,i quite enjoyed it.

pumpkincat210 profile image

pumpkincat210 4 years ago from Houston, Texas U.S.A.

Thanks! I'd always wondered about this and wasn't sure what it was called. I'm going to test this out on a couple of people later to see the accuracy I get.

Meowth 3 years ago

I laughed as soon as my eye went to the appropriate area. I am so easy to read. Haha!

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