Detecting Lies: How to Tell Whether or Not Some is Truthful
Being Able to Decipher a Lie Can Help You Uncover a Scam
you work in forensics, security, or human resources or simply need to better
understand human behavior, the ability to detect lies is a skill that can be
quite useful. Being able to uncover a lie can also help you avoid becoming a
victim of a scam or other kind of deception.
Observe a Person’s Body Language and What He/She is Saying
Body language and verbal cues can give you information as to an individual’s
truthfulness. While certain gestures or utterances do not necessarily mean a
person is lying outright, they do indicate that he may be less than truthful.
A Lack of Arm or Hand Movement
For example, people who are deceptive often are less expressive physically than
people who tell the truth. Their movements are stiffer and they display little
in the way of arm or hand movement. Movements of the arms and legs tend to go
inwards, thereby taking up less space.
Prevaricators Tend to Touch Their Face As
you may already know, someone who is lying is uncomfortable about making eye
contact. They also tend to touch the facial areas, especially the mouth and
throat. You’ll often see prevaricators scratch or touch their nose or do the
same thing behind the ear.
Also, look at the emotional response. It usually isn’t in sync with the
sentiment that is displayed. Usually, the response is delayed and lingers longer
than what is normal. For example, a deceiver may not immediately appear sad upon
hearing some bad news. Instead, he'll look unhappy some time after he’s been
given the information. Therefore, when conveying emotion, the feelings that are
shown seem to be a bit off-pace.
In most instances, the timing of a deceiver’s gestures and emotions are
generally not concurrent. For example, if you give someone a gift and they
respond by saying, "I love it!" but they don't instantly show it in their face,
they're lying. If they really liked the gift they would have looked pleased at
the same time they made the comment.
Facial Expressions: Nuances to Note
Or the facial expressions and statements of a liar will not match. For example,
if someone tells you they like you but looks rather austere, then they’re
misleading you. People who are truthful involve all of their face when they are
emotionally expressing themselves. For instance, smiles include the eyes,
forehead, cheeks, and jaws. Prevaricators, though, limit their emotional
gestures to the area around the mouth.
Body Language Clues:
The following video elaborates on deceptive body language further:
People Who are Less than Truthful Often Act Defensive
When it comes to interacting with others, people who are deceptive are prone to
get on the defensive while people who have nothing to hide are more proactive.
In turn, they tend to go on the offensive instead.
Creating a Barrier
People who tell falsehoods too tend to place items between themselves and the
person with whom they are communicating. Therefore, if you’re sitting at a
table, the prevaricator may, say, set a newspaper or magazine between the two of
People who lie often repeat the words in a question as well. For example, if you
ask him if he saw you at the park the other day, a deceiver will answer you by
saying, “No, I did not see you at the park the other day.” Also, people who tell
the truth use contractions more often in their speech than people who tend to
tell tales. For example, a person who is more trustworthy might say, “I wouldn’t
do that,” while someone practicing deceit might say, “I would not do that.”
People who practice deceit often include unnecessary details in the stories that
they tell. They also become rather jittery if there is too much of a pause while
they are speaking with someone. Liars frequently speak softly and muddle their
language unlike a truth-teller who clearly enunciates his words.
If You Suspect Someone is Lying, Quickly Change the Topic
If you suspect that someone is lying, quickly shifting the topic of conversation
will give you more of a clue. For example, a deceiver will comply with the shift
and will immediately become less stressed. However, people who tell the truth
will not understand why you changed the subject and may try to back up to what
was being said. If someone is lying, he may make a sarcastic remark or resort to
some form of humor to redirect the discussion.
Of course, if someone displays one of the above clues, that doesn’t
necessarily make him a bald-faced liar. However, professionals who are trained
to detect lies do use some of the above information to make educated guesses
along these lines.
Analyze the Words a Person Uses in Conversation
Another way to determine lying is by analyzing the words that a person uses when
he speaks. For instance, if someone tells you he is trying to be on time, he is
not being entirely truthful. He is making the attempt to be on time but he is
not taking any action to actually be on time.
A Mix of the Past and Present
Conflicts in the truthfulness of a story can also arise when there is a mix of
past and present tense. For example, if someone describes a situation where he
was robbed and says, “The robber walked in my home, pointed a weapon at me and
then tells me to face the wall,” the statement is most likely not true. While he
noted that the first two actions happened in the past, he placed the third
action he described in the present. Actions in the past come from the memory.
They don’t occur in the present.
The Use of Articles
The articles in a story, such as “a,” “an,” and “the” can call a person’s
veracity into question as well. For example, if someone says, “A man in a ski
mask came up to me, threatened me with a weapon and forced me into the van,”
he’s not likely telling the truth. Using “the” before “van” shows that either
the statement is false or that the storyteller recognized the vehicle.
Using “Never” in a Sentence
The word “never” is another watchword that is often used by deceivers too. For
example, if you ask someone if they took your bracelet and they tell you that
they would never take your jewelry, they really didn’t deny taking the bracelet.
They’re just telling you that isn’t something they’d ever do. An honest person
would tell you that they didn’t take the bracelet.
Because “never,” in essence, means “not ever,” a person is typically not
lying if you ask, for example, if he ever cheated on an exam. The proper
response would be to say that he never cheated on a test because “never,” again,
means “not ever.”
Replacing “Never” for “No”
However, the word “never” cannot be supplanted for the word “no,” which is a
method used by people who tend to lie. For example, if you ask the
question, “Did you sell her the narcotics?” and the answer, in turn, is “I never
sold the narcotics,” the response is not direct. Deceivers like to use this
technique as it answers the question but takes a detour around a straight route
of communication. Typically, an honest person would say, “No, I didn’t sell her
Politicians often use the word “never” so they don’t have to answer a
question directly. While the use of the word does not mean a person is
unqualifiedly a liar, it does denote that he is not always responding
Also, if you simply make a statement and say, “I never have been horseback
riding,” and you have never ridden on a horse, then, of course, you’re not
lying. You just have to watch out for the word “never” when it’s used to replace
“no” in a sentence as the speaker is either not conveying all the details or
simply isn’t telling the truth.