Learn How To Tell If Someone Is Lying To You

by Angel Chang
Angel is a writer on the Original Content team at LittleThings. Check out her articles about crucial tips on female and doggie health. She loves to take long walks, volunteer with kids, try new food, browse through burger recipes, and code in her spare time. Feel free to let her know what you'd like to see her write up next.

It is in our human nature to lie. We probably all tell white lies on a daily basis, and most of the time, they’re harmless.

But studies have showed us that in some cases, the number of people who lie can be overwhelming. About 60 percent of us lie at least once during a 10-minute conversation. More than 80 percent of women admit to occasionally telling harmless “half-truths.”

Men reportedly tell an average of six lies to their partner, work colleagues, and boss every day. No wonder there have been so many studies to reveal when and how a person is telling lies.

In our exclusive investigation below, we guide you through the steps of identifying when someone has told a lie.

Adapting the research done by Dr. Leanne ten Brinke, a forensic psychologist at the University of Berkeley, California, and Dr. Lillian Glass, a behavioral analyst and body language expert who has worked with the FBI, we condense some of the most crucial tips.

Most of these clues involve physical and visual cues, so you’ll have to pay really close attention to the person who is answering your questions…

Scroll further to learn how to spot a liar, and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Clue #1: Not Using Contractions

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
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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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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

Ways to spot a liar
LittleThings/Maya Borenstein

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!