People tell lies for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes to avoid a situation and hold on to control, maybe because it’s something the person wants to be true but it simply isn’t, or even a white lie where the lie is to protect another person from getting hurt.

However big or small the lie, and whatever the intention, the objective when lying is to communicate in a way that deceives another person from knowing the truth. But can we hide our lies? Or is the truth always revealed in some other way? That’s what we’re about to find out, in this Episode of The Infographics Show: How Can You Tell Someone Is Lying?

The average person hears from 10 to as many as 200 lies per day. College students lie to their mothers 20% of the time, and on average strangers lie to each other three times within the first 10 minutes of meeting. All points made by Pamela Meyer, author of the book Liespotting, and presenter of a TED Talk, How To Spot a Liar, which has more than 18 million views. So if we’re all being lied to so much of the time, how can we do a better job of catching people out? Well, there are tell tale signs that can help you to understand when the truth is being told or not. Taking the advice of Meyer, other behavioral experts and FBI interrogators, here are 8 useful tips to help you spot a liar.

Number 8, repeating the question – Dr. Lillian Glass is a behavioral analyst and body language expert who has worked with the FBI on unmasking signals of deception. She says that if someone is lying, they will often repeat the question. This is because they’re trying to convince you, and themselves, of the lie they are about to tell. To validate the lie in their mind, they might also say something along the lines of “I didn’t …I didn’t …” over and over again. The repetition is a way of buying themselves time as they attempt to gather their thoughts.

Number 7, forgetting their story

Our memory is unreliable and past events may differ from the way you remember them. Psychologists say the majority of people don’t remember true stories or real events in chronological order because our brains simply aren’t wired that way. Our emotions guide our memories, so the more dramatic a story, the less chronological it is likely to be remembered. When someone lies, they will often go into great detail making sure their story follows a logical timeline of the events as they occurred.  If an honest person makes a mistake when recalling a story, they will want you to know they made a mistake, as they are not being deceptive. A deceptive person will have planned out what they want to say and so will stick to their story.

At number 6 is throat clearing

When someone repeatedly clears their throat, it maybe a sign of stress and anxiety, and when a person is telling a lie, they experience cognitive overload which leads to this stress. Former CIA officers Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero say in their book Spy the Lie, that if a person clears their throat or performs a significant swallow prior to answering an interrogation question, that’s a potential problem and could indicate that a lie is being told. The question might have created a spike in anxiety, leading to discomfort or dryness in the mouth and throat. But, of course, people clear their throats for all sorts of reasons, so if you’re going to apply this technique, you first need to observe the person and understand how they usually behave.

Number 5 is sweating

Increased stress and anxiety can also cause the heart rate to go up and adrenaline to be released, which both result in additional perspiration. Anyone who’s ever watched a police interrogation on a TV show will notice how the guilty frequently break out in a sweat and are seen wiping it from their foreheads. So if you think someone is telling you a whopper of a lie, sit them down, ask them directly, and see if they start to perspire.

Number 4 is Body language

There is a lot you can tell from observing a person’s body movements. But as we mentioned before, to properly pick up the tell tale signs of a liar, you first need to understand how they behave when they are not lying. Once you’ve done that, here are some body language clues that will help you find the truth…People will often shrug their shoulders when they don’t know or agree to something.

So if someone is shrugging while they are speaking, it may indicate they don’t agree with what is coming out of their own mouth…If you see someone suddenly make a head movement when you ask them a direct question, that can also be a sign that they are lying to you about something…And finally if there is no movement at all, then something suspect may also be on display. Body language expert Glass says that “When you speak and engage in normal conversation, it is natural to move your body around in subtle, relaxed, and, for the most part, unconscious movements. So if you observe a rigid, catatonic stance devoid of movement, it is often a huge warning sign that something is off.”

Number 3 is Difficulty with speaking

When someone is under pressure and lying, they often have a hard time coming up with coherent answers. Their lies will be full of contradictions, and as they try to think quickly and weave a story, their speech can be affected. Pausing, mispronouncing words, or stuttering are signs they are lying. When investigators watch a videotaped interrogation of a guilty suspect, they will often observe that it becomes increasingly more difficult for the suspect to speak. This is a reaction to stress. The nervous system decreases salivary flow during times of stress, leading to a dry mouth and difficulty with speaking.

Number 2 is Pausing before answering

It’s natural that someone pauses before answering a question, particularly if you have asked them to recall past events as they need a few seconds to gather their thoughts. However, the question you ask and the length of the pause is also important. Here’s a good exercise to test on a friend. Ask this question, “On this date five years ago, what were you doing?”

The friend will likely pause before responding, because they need to cast their mind back to remember the day, and unless they have a very sharp mind or the date happens to be significant such as a birthday, it’s unlikely they will be able to offer a meaningful response. Now try this question, “On this date five years ago, did you rob a bank?” If your friend pauses before responding to this, then you probably need to choose your friends more wisely. But the most likely response will be “No!” because a person understands what they are capable of without needing to remember the past.

And finally at number 1 is eye movement

What people do with their eyes can tell us a lot about what’s happening with their imagination and inner dialogue, and when dealing with a liar, there are many indicators that come from observing the eyes. Firstly, Blinking – a person will usually blink every 10 or 12 seconds, but when in a stressed state, the blinking will increase and a person may blink 5 or 6 times in a row.

Secondly, looking up and to the right – Mark Bouton, an FBI agent for 30 years and author of How to Spot Lies Like the FBI, explains that “When you ask a normal, right-handed person about something he’s supposed to have seen, if he looks upward and to his left, he’s truly accessing his memory of the incident. However, if he looks upward and to his right, he’s accessing his imagination, and he’s inventing an answer.” And finally, darting back and forth – If someone feels trapped and uncomfortable by the questions they’re being asked, their eyes will dart back and forth. This is a throwback to when people were in a dangerous situation, such as facing a human or animal adversary and they had to decide between fight or flight.

Lies are common, and everyday we hear numerous stories being spun. Some are small lies, some big, and some are even told to protect us. But can you spot a liar? Let us know what, if any, techniques you use to discern the truth? Also, be sure to check out our other video called What are the signs that you are a psychopath! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!


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