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Healthy and Happy Love Relationships. Originally written in 1986, and a free online guide to time-tested attitudes & tips since 2001.

How to Spot a Liar

Introduction to Lie Detection

The techniques to spot lies and a liar on this page are often used by police, and security experts. When someone is lying there are certain body reactions they cannot control. Observing this sort of automatic body language, especially if there are multiple signs or repeated signs are your strong clues that someone is lying to you. Learn how to: Recognize a fake smile Recognize the signs of a deception: Recognize body language that indicates lies are being told. • Physical gestures will be limited and stiff. You will observe a minimum of arm and hand movements. Hand, arm and leg movement you do notice will be directed toward their own body. This indicates that the liar is subconsciously trying to be ‘small’ and not draw attention to themselves, and therefore to their words. • Someone who is lying to you will avoid making eye contact. We have all heard it said that the eyes are the window to the soul … the liar prefers to not have anyone peeking in those windows. • Eye movements can tell you where the answer you are getting is originating. When someone is recalling information from memory as an answer to your question, their eyes will tend to look to their right. However if the answer is being created on the spot, the eyes will tend to look to their left. • Look for their hands touching their face, throat & mouth, scratching their nose or behind their ear. These are subconscious forms of ‘masking’, whereas touching the chest, especially over the heart with an open hand is a gesture of truth and expression. • The timing and duration of emotional gestures and reactions are misplaced and awkward, and therefore do not have a natural ‘flow’ about them. For instance, emotional expressions seem delayed or stay longer than would naturally be expected …but then stop suddenly. • The timing between emotions gestures, expressions and words is off. If someone is happy to see you, for instance, they will smile while saying so …not seem to remember to smile after having said so. This sort of situation demonstrates the difference between a natural flow versus one that is being put on for effect only. • Mismatched gestures or expressions compared to a verbal statement … Does someone frown when saying "thank you"? No, they smile. Such dichotomy between the physical and verbal is another way the subconscious takes over the body even if it contradicts what the brain is expressing. • A liar’s expressions will usually be limited to mouth movements only when emotions are being faked for the sake of appearances as opposed to ‘whole-face’ expressions which are more natural in humans. • If challenged on some point or issue, a liar will immediately become defensive, whereas someone telling the truth will be more inclined to show offense and will be on the offensive to protect their honor and/or credibility. A liar will also feel discomfort when challenged and will often turn his or her head or body away from you. • Liars have a tendency to place objects between themselves and you. This is a subconscious reaction to the desire to have a barrier to hide behind so as to be inconspicuous in a sense. • When lying, a person will often re-state the words of a question when answering. Question: "Did you try to get a date?" Answer: "No, I did not try to get a date." Furthermore, a liar will often attempt to avoid "lying" (per se) and will avoid making definitive statements, tending instead to imply information in a response rather than responding with a direct denial of an allegation. • A liar will want to sell you on the lie and will often be more verbose in explanations or answers. Silence or pauses in the conversation will be uncomfortable to them because they feel what they have said is being examined or evaluated, therefore they will tend to interject into those normal conversational pauses with additional or unnecessary details. This is a form of distraction to reduce scrutiny. • A liar’s presentation may be garbled and spoken softly. Syntax and grammar may be off causing sentences to be muddled as opposed to clear and emphasized. This is simply another form of subconscious attempt to avoid scrutiny. It can also be a way to create some deniability of statements … i.e. "You heard me wrong, that’s not what I said." • If you change subject of a conversation quickly, a liar follows along willingly and becomes more relaxed because they are relieved to be out of that ‘spot light.’ A truthful person is likely be confused by the sudden change of topic and will want to return to the previous subject. This can be a test if you are suspicious that you are being lied to. • As a form of distraction, liar’s will often attempt to inject humor or sarcasm to avoid or even belittle a subject, or sometimes even the questioner …under that circumstance the liar is attempting to regain control by a form of subtle and indirect intimidation. A Cautionary Note One or more of these signs does not automatically make someone a liar. The behaviors outlined herein should be compared to a person’s usual behavior whenever possible. It is easier for strangers to get away with lying to you because you don’t have that base line to work from.
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The love we have in our youth is superficial compared to the love that an old man has for his old wife. — Will Durant