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Learning How to Detect Lies

Updated on October 16, 2016

Learn How to Spot a Liar

Oh, You Say You Can Spot a Liar?

Many people think that they are fantastic at spotting lies. Those people, for the majority, are grossly mistaken. Spotting a lie is a skill that must be acquired through extensive research, training and practice.

However, being able to spot a lie can help businesses gain a competitive edge, it can help you avoid unhealthy people in your life, and it can even help you become more confident and secure.

Once you gain the ability to spot even the most clever liars, you gain a great power not possessed by most. The truth is, humans are about as good at detecting lies as chimpanzees. It's a scientifically proven fact. Most of us are extremely bad lie detectors, even if we think we aren't. Learning to detect a lie takes skill, education and practice.

With the prevalence of technology in today's society, lying is easier to do and harder to spot. By practicing certain techniques and by learning more about reading body cues, you can turn yourself into a walking lie detector.

TED Talk on How to Spot a Liar

Being able to detect a lie isn't always easy. I found this book to be a fascinating presentation of the physical signs a person displays when they are being dec

Pamela Meyer - Expert Lie Detector

No one knows how to detect a lie like Pamala Meyer. Founder and CEO of Calibrate, a leading deception detection training company, Meyer has an MBA from Harvard and is a certified Fraud Examiner. To obtain her certification, Meyer had to undergo extensive training involving how to interpret visual clues. She also had to study the psychology of human behaviors and methods used to detect deception.

Author of Liespotting, Meyer helps the government, businesses, and the public learn how to read human gestures in order to decipher between fact and fiction. She was asked to speak at the TED convention about her techniques, and her talk on lie detecting is now one of the top 20 most popular TED talks to date.

Here is a breakdown of Meyer's lie detecting methodology:

  • Study the face - facial expressions give valuable cues about whether or not someone is being honest
  • Listen to what they are saying - liars often are long-winded and avoid answering direct questions when they are hiding something
  • Watch their body language - we only communicate 7% vocally, the rest is through body language

Pamela Meyer can help you figure out how good you are at spotting lies with her Liespotting Quiz.

Are You Good at Spotting the Truth and Spotting Lies?

Poll About Lying

Do you consider yourself good at spotting liars?

See results

Tips for Spotting a Liar

Here are some tips to keep you from being lied to and to help you catch it when its happening:

  • Differentiate Between the Liars and the Truth Tellers, then Study the Liars - Extensive studies have shown that those who are extroverted tend to lie more than introverts. Also, people are more comfortable lying to those who they view as deceitful. Once you can pinpoint those who lie habitually, you can study their behaviors to learn what traits and characteristics most liars have in common.
  • Identify the Two Types of Lies - Lies fall into two basic categories, offensive lies and defensive lies. Offensive lies are when we lie to please others. Defensive lies are when we lie due to shame or guilt. Most lies that are told are deceptive lies.
  • Learn Basic Verbal Cues Liars Utilize - When someone is lying, they tend to be extremely, and unnecessarily specific about the details; Liars also rarely use contractions, believing that saying "I did NOT do that" sounds more believable than "I didn't do that"
  • Learn Basic Non-Verbal Cues Liars Utilize - Avoidance of eye contact or excessive eye contact, touching and rubbing the eyes, crossing of the arms and fidgeting with objects are all cues that indicate a person is being untruthful

Don't Be Fooled By Liars

Myths About How to Spot a Lie

Here are common myths people believe regarding lie detecting. Note: these are NOT ways to spot lies, but rather widely held false beliefs pertaining to spotting lies:

  • Liars always look to the left
  • Liars cover their mouths when they are being dishonest
  • Liars won't look you in the eyes if they are being deceitful
  • Liars talk fast
  • Stuttering or slurring of words designates a lie
  • Liars fidget uncontrollably

The above mentioned examples are all popularly believed myths regarding spotting lies. That doesn't however mean that the list describes people being honest, but rather that the actions listed don't make reliable indicators of the truth.

For the most part, liars don't avoid eye contact, but rather, they use excessive eye contact to convince you of the truth. The don't talk fast because they are creating a new story in their head as they speak. Stuttering is uncommon among liars because they believe that the more clearly they speak, the more believable their words become. Studies also show that people actually fidget less when they are lying than when they are telling the truth.

The Real Truth About Lies

We are lied to on a daily basis, and by all kinds of people. On any given day, studies show that we may be lied to anywhere from 10 to 200 times. Spotting lies isn't like a childhood game of hide and seek. No, fraud detection is an extremely serious and in-depth branch of knowledge that is based on reliable, scientific data that has been acquired over a number of decades by prolific researchers in the field.

Research has shown that the most dishonest people are often the ones we would least expect. Most liars are creative thinkers, hold powerful jobs, are outspoken and gregarious. It has been shown that men tell lies about themselves more than about others, and that women typically lie to protect people close to them.

Deception detectors work with the CIA, the NSA and other government branches to help find and charge wanted felons, decipher lies told by people in powerful positions and uncover information unattainable by those who aren't skilled in detecting a dishonest person. Deception detectors are trained to count the number of times a person blinks while speaking, watch if the person purses or licks their lips excessively, notice gaps between what the person is saying and how they are communicating verbally and so on and so forth.

Lie detecting is not a gift we are born with or a gut intuition - it is the result of extensive studying and schooling, combined with practice analyzing both physical and non-physical cues of both honest and dishonest people.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal


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    • ologsinquito profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      The older I get, the less surprised I am by deception. Sad, but true.


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