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Posted in Law on August 10, 2015   |  by Gary Burger

How to Spot a Liar

Do you know how to tell if someone is lying? It might be easier than you think to spot a liar. If someone performs any two of the following behaviors within 10 seconds of a question and a third behavior within 30 seconds, they could be lying. Of course, it is necessary to be knowledgeable of the context of the person’s behavior - if they perform these behaviors regularly or if they are just nervous. If someone has a nervous twitch, never looks at you when they are talking, or moves their body in excess as a part of their regular behavior, this may not be an indicator of lying. However, if they are otherwise a calm person and they perform these behaviors, it could be an indicator of lying. Remember, this is not a guarantee but is a strong indication. Also, keep in mind, if they perform two of these behaviors within the first 5-10 seconds, followed by a third one within 30 seconds, this is a deviation from their normal behavior and their normal behavior should be observed to put these indicators in context. People often display these behavioral indicators of lies, unintended and unmonitored deviations from normal behavior caused by stress, as a response of the cognitive burden produced from lying.

Here Are Some Indicators Of How To Spot A Liar:

  • Not directly answering the question being asked
  • Do not give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to a question when they should
  • Use words to overemphasize truthfulness like “indeed”, “really”, “absolutely” and “actually”
  • Making spontaneous corrections; correcting a question or point for no reason
  • Repeating what was said/asked
  • Smiling inappropriately
  • Referring to already answering the questions without really answering it (i.e. politicians: “I already answered these allegations”)
  • Face touching
  • Repeated blinking
  • Fidgeting (moving fingers/changing expression)
  • Voice goes up in pitch
  • Verbal style changes
  • Turning their body away
  • Put one shoulder up rather than two
  • Compressing lips
  • False smile (where the smile is not in the eyes but just in the mouth)
  • Eyebrows raised
  • Moving around and body language, squirming, moving knees, tapping feet
  • Invoking God in their answer
  • Surrounding a false statement with other true things: for example “I was driving down the road and of course it was raining and my car was going 32.5 miles per hour and I had just filled up with gas
  • and the light was green and then I went and picked my kid from school.”
  • Making the questions bigger or broader and then denying their
  • Verbal slips
  • Increased pauses between speaking
  • Saying “Ummm”, “Ahhh”, or other verbal pauses
  • Stalling and then answering
  • Answering the question with a question
  • Repeating the question
  • Use prefatory language like “well” and “you see”
  • Providing too much information and unnecessary details and a very long answer rather than just a simple answer to a question
  • Fein a lack of recollection

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It is possible to maneuver around lies by asking basic questions with yes or no answers, then insisting on clear answers and repeating the question until it is answered in the manner you requested. If an admission is made, expand on the admission and ask if they performed any other similar behavior before explicitly question that particular admission - this method often produces much more information you may not have been given. Another question technique is to ask someone rather than saying ‘did you take out my car when I told you that you couldn’t?’ ask ‘is there any reason why someone would tell me that they say you driving around in my car’. These question techniques force the person in question to pause and decide whether or not you are bluffing which really makes it much more difficult to lie. Notice that in this short blog no one was referred to as a liar - because the reality is that all humans lie. Some studies say that an average person lies 10 times per day. So, we are not making judgments about this but we are just trying to give you some ideas about how to detect lying and get to the truth. There is much irony in this deception paradox-we need to ignore the truth of what they are saying to find out the truth of what is in question.