Clue #1: Not Using Contractions
One of the most crucial ways to detect lies is to pay close attention to both the verbal content and context of speech. It’s good to know that a liar will often use your own words when answering a question.
In our example above, a woman asks her co-worker, “Did you take those files?”
Instead of responding with a direct, short answer, he replies with, “No, I did not take those files.”
Clue #2: Overexplaining
One of the most well known signs that point to a lie is when the accused speaks more than is necessary. By stuttering, circling back and forth, and looking for different ways to answer a simple question, a liar will have created a trap for himself.
Here, in our example, a girl asks her sister, “Did you eat my chocolate?”
Instead of responding with a simple “yes” or “no,” her sister rambles on, trying to lay blame on their parents first, before ultimately giving yet a different answer.
Clue #3: Moving Around
One of the subtler ways to identify a lie is to watch closely for changes in body language. A liar will often try to avoid eye contact when speaking with the accuser. It’s true what they say: the eyes hold the key to understanding one’s emotions.
Here, a woman is in a conversation with her husband. She is still talking to him, but angles both her head and eyes away from him.
Clue #4: Touching Their Face
In addition to repositioning their bodies, liars will try their best to obstruct the view of the accuser. That’s why a liar will often touch his own face, throat, or mouth during a conversation where they feel uncomfortable or disadvantaged.
Here, a woman’s hands reach up to touch her chin and mouth. In addition to slight movements of the arms and hands, liars will appear stiffer than usual. This way, they unconsciously make their bodies occupy less space.
Clue #5: Shifting Attitudes
Yet another way to spot a liar is to detect any sudden shifts in emotion or attitude. For example, a liar may display emotion long after being asked a question.
In our illustration above, a teacher asks her student whether his work was plagiarized. He waits a while, clearly conflicted, before he starts to cry.
This rather drastic shift in emotion definitely gives away a deeper contradiction that the liar faces within himself.
Clue #6: Delaying Emotions
Another sudden shift in emotion can happen when a liar first verbally responds to a question being asked, and then waits a certain amount of time before showing any definitive emotions.
In the example here, a woman asks her husband, “Do you think I’ve gained weight?” to which he initially responds, “No, of course not.”
He didn’t show much emotion when he answered the question, and only smiles after he makes the statement. Think about it — why wouldn’t he have smiled as he made the statement?
Clue #7: Using Micro-Expressions
Let’s try to explain what micro-expressions are before delving into the explanations.
A micro-expression is entirely an involuntary facial expression. What that means is that we’ll often unconsciously display these reactions without thinking too much beforehand. For instance, a liar may display the micro-expression of fear.
Here, a woman raises her eyebrows, has wide-open eyes, and slightly parted lips.
Clue #8: Behaving Defensively
Some liars will often become quickly aggravated and defensive, instead of going on the offensive. When feeling like they’re being interrogated, a liar may quickly put up a wall, and display the micro-expression of anger.
Here, a man furrows his brows, and has a frowning mouth and narrowed eyes. While there are certainly other facial indicators (liars may also look disgusted or surprised), these two expressions are perhaps the most intense, and say more about the emotions that the liar is concealing.
Clue #9: Shifting Eyes Horizontally
The eyes are the windows to our souls. People may shift their eyes and try to avoid eye contact when they lie, but there is so much more that they do involuntarily.
If the suspect looks to their right (your left), they are generally constructing a visual description. If they look to their left (your right), they are generally only recalling the details from their own visual memory.
While this method isn’t as clear-cut as the others may be, it’s worth a try to take note.
So, a glance to your left would possibly indicate that the other person is “creating” an idea, or “lying,” while a glance to your right signifies that they are remembering an actual event, or being “truthful.”
Here, a mother tries to find out if her daughter has taken a few cookies from the jar. The girl quickly glances in the upper left direction, signifying that she’s dreaming up an image, and making up, instead of remembering, facts, while replying.
Clue #10: Shifting Eyes Vertically
Likewise, her eyes could also involuntarily glance in your lower left direction. This means that she is creating feelings and sensations.
Visual cues like these are definitely the toughest to follow, but just know that pretty much all of them are completely involuntary.
Clue #11: Creating Barriers
A secondary study in body language involves catching any strange behaviors.
In the example shown above, a man is sitting across the table from his wife, and having a conversation with her. He may place an object between them, like a glass of water.
In situations of interrogation, a liar may unconsciously place an object between himself and the accuser, thereby creating some sort of invisible barrier to “protect” himself.
Clue #12: Turning Away
Likewise, a liar may show physical signs of discomfort when facing their accuser.
The same man may even further distance himself from the conversation with his wife by slowly angling his entire body away from her.
The liar will most likely also look in another direction, and not face the realities of the situation head-on.
Will you use these tactics to see if you can spot a liar right in front of you? Let us know, and please SHARE these useful tips!