Lying and cheating are common human behaviors. Most people lie from time to time, some lies are “small” and others can be more serious. Sometimes you lie to avoid hurting other people’s feelings and other times, to get things or hide them.
People do not usually easily detect when others are lying, since we naturally like to believe that others are good people. You can actually spot a liar as there are non-verbal cues that are much more common than you might imagine. Liars tend to get restless and even those who are more sure of themselves and believe even their lies will have little blunders that will give them away.
But to be able to “catch” a liar can be quite complicated, and more in those who have enough skill to achieve it. There are behavioral differences between honest people and liars but they are difficult to measure. Detecting a lie sometimes comes down to one simple thing: trusting your instincts and paying attention to the finer details.
When it comes to detecting lies , people often focus on the effects of body language on behavior. This usually translates into: elusive eyes, restless speech, avoiding eye contact … these may be unequivocal signs but they are only clues, since many of these behaviors are not always signs that the person is lying, sometimes just it is shyness.
Sometimes when a person looks away it may just be because they are thinking or trying to remember something. Cues and behaviors can be helpful from deception, although there may also be behaviors linked to lying that cannot be discovered as quickly. The key in any case, is to understand what signals you should pay attention to.
Signs linked to lying
Some red flags that may indicate that someone is trying to deceive you include:
- Give vague details
- Repeat the questions before answering them
- Speak in fragments
- Not providing specific details when telling a story
- Strange behaviors such as clenching your fingers, lips, or touching your hair a lot
To detect lies, practice is needed since sometimes perceptions are not related to the real ability to detect a deception. Although in most cases, more than training, what is really needed is listening to instinct .
Body language is weak
People tend to pay attention to many of the correct behavioral signs of deception, although the problem may be that people who lie display these signs very subtly. Some of the more accurate deception signals that people pay attention to include:
Being vague on details, when important details are intentionally omitted.
Vocal uncertainty, when the person seems insecure when telling something.
Indifference, like shrugging, lack of expression, having a strange posture … trying to avoid transmitting emotions .
Overthinking, when the person seems to be thinking too much to fill in the details of what they are telling.
What is important is to pay attention to the correct signals. Experts say that relying too much on signals can affect the ability to detect lies (when instinct is not heeded). It takes a more active approach to determine if someone is telling the truth or not.
Lie detection is often viewed as a passive process. People often assume that they can only observe the liar’s body language and facial expressions for obvious “clues.” Although research has shown that this is a pretty bad way to detect lies, taking a more active approach to discovering lies can yield better results.
Increasing mental load makes lying more difficult
Asking people to report their stories in reverse order rather than chronological can increase the accuracy of lie detection. Verbal and nonverbal cues that distinguish between lying and telling the truth become more apparent as cognitive load increases. In other words, lying is more mentally taxing than telling the truth. If you add even more cognitive complexity, the behavioral cues may become more apparent.
Not only is telling a lie more demanding from a cognitive point of view, but liars tend to exert much more mental energy to control their behaviors and evaluate the responses of others. They care about their credibility and make sure that other people believe their stories. All of this requires a considerable amount of effort, so if you throw in a difficult task (like telling its story in reverse order), gaps in the story and behavior might be easier to spot.
Trust your instincts
Your immediate visual reactions could be more accurate than any other conscious lie detection you can try. People can have an unconscious and intuitive idea about whether someone is lying. So if our gut reactions could be more accurate, why aren’t people better at identifying dishonesty? This may be yes because conscious responses could interfere with our automatic associations.
Instead of trusting our instincts, we focus on the stereotypical behaviors that we often associate with lying, such as restlessness and lack of eye contact. By overemphasizing behaviors that unreliably predict deception, we damage our ability to distinguish between truth and lies. In addition, that people prefer to think that whoever is in front of them is not going to deceive them.
Most of these stereotypical behaviors don’t really reveal dishonesty. What is the best way to detect a liar? The reality is that there is no universal and sure sign that someone is lying. All signs, behaviors and indicators are simply clues that can reveal whether a person is being sincere or not.
The next time you want to know if someone is telling you the. True or not, try to detect more subtle behaviors … when necessary take a more active approach adding pressure to what the other tells you and then trust your instincts.