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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

How to Spot out Liars in a Digital World

How to Spot out Liars in a Digital World

The digital world has opened our lives up in many ways. Social connections can be made at a click of a button so it’s become a fast and easy place to meet people. This ease means you can reach millions of people, interact and have conversations as well as the control to respond or ignore anyone you want, which can be much harder in the real world. Building multiple relationships at once becomes the norm online with those people living in any corner of the world.

But what’s the downside to all of this? The problem is that, with the ease of building relationships with others, comes the greater the risk of being scammed. According to the Internet Complaint Centre, a whopping $173 million was lost by people scammed by romantic fraudsters just in California alone.[1]

If the digital world is a great place to build new connections and enhance our lives, why do more and more people fall for these scams online than they probably would in the real world?

How Our Minds Work: The Truth Bias

For our social, career and even governmental relationships to work, a certain amount of trust has to be in place. This is because questioning people’s veracity at every turn doesn’t create harmonious relationships. In other words, it’s become a social default to ignore inconsistencies because we want to trust that what we hear, see and read is the truth. This is known as the truth bias.

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    And while the truth bias is essentially a peaceful and amicable way to go about the world, unfortunately it provides the average liar with an advantage.

    Online presence takes away real life verbal and physical clues that face-to-face communication provides which is one way to fall for a liar’s words. But many people often dismiss discrepancies in order to avoid upfront questioning and would prefer to believe they are speaking to a truthful person.

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      The internet essentially acts as a mask making it hard to really know who we’re exchanging words with. In the real world, we can get a feel for a person’s energy or body language which helps create a fuller picture. But behind a screen, we are reliant on unpracticed techniques to figure a person out and our brains haven’t been able to build up enough data in order to spot a friend or foe without these physical interactions.

      Why the Internet Isn’t What It Seems

      Most people have put their stamp on the internet in the form of a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or dating profile and almost everyone is guilty of filtering, photoshopping or adjusting their pictures in some way. In most cases it’s harmless. We often exaggerate our hobbies and interests in order to make ourselves appear better to others. Again this can be a subconscious thing and quite innocent because we all want to build a unique and interesting image in order to attract people.

        However, we all know there are people out there that bend the truth when it comes to their profiles which can be hard to spot. Their life seems almost perfect with their top education, multilingual skills and high-earning job. Can this really be true? How can you trust that it’s a genuine person?

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        How to Spot out Liars in a Digital World

        Building relationships online is a great way of meeting new people and most of the time it’s not all bad. Being cautious, however, is a must because you don’t have these instinctive verbal or physical clues that you’d normally work from.

        Having the skills to decode a person’s personality, sincerity and veracity on the other side of a screen is down to getting a feel for the person and making educated guesses.

          Educated guesses is an open-minded yet cautious way to go about getting to know someone you may not see in person. If you find yourself building a relationship online:

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          1. Make a few guesses first. From what you see, try to find both positive and negative sides to them. This will help keep a balanced view without the truth bias kicking in straight away. Look at the overall person, not just what they tell you or what another person tells you about them.
          2. Do an internet search on them. This may appear like stalking but it’s helpful to make sure their different profiles show consistency across the board. This includes consistency of information as well as personality in terms of what they share or how they interact.
          3. Look for evidence that all information aligns. Look back on your initial guesses about the person and see if they match up (or don’t match up) with any of the information you’ve gathered. After weighing it out, you should be able to see if the evidence supports one guess over the other.

          When assessing someone online, you need to be logical instead of relying on instinct which serves us best when we see someone face-to-face. Having a more logical approach will negate the tendency to allow the truth bias to override and therefore reduce the vulnerability of being deceived.

          Next time you meet someone online, take a step back and allow yourself to be cautious. While it’s good to trust others, be aware of the truth bias we all tend to use when interacting with others and make sure you don’t make yourself vulnerable to the scammers.

          Reference

          [1]Sheriff McDonnell and Cyber Investigators: Love Hurts: A Forum and Discussion on Online Dating Safety

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          Published on July 13, 2018

          Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

          Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

          What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

          By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

          When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

          In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

          Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

          What is attachment theory?

          Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

          The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

          His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

          The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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          When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

          Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

          How attachment develops

          Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

          Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

          The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

          It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

          In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

          Different types of attachments

          In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

          • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
          • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
          • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
          • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

          What attachments mean to adults

          So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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          As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

          • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
          • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
          • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
          • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

          Here’s where it gets really interesting:

          Move towards secure attachment

          The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

          Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

          The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

          If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

          The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

          Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

          How to restructure your thoughts

          Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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          For the Avoidant Style

          As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

          Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

          Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

          Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

          Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

          If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

          Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

          And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

          For the Anxious Style

          For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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          First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

          Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

          For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

          The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

          Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

          When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

          For the Secure Style

          Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

          Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

          Strive towards Secure Attachment

          As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

          • Positive self esteem and self image
          • Close and well adjusted relationships
          • Sense of security in self and the world
          • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
          • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
          • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
          • Trust in self and others
          • Close, intimate relationships
          • Strong determination and problem solving skills

          If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

          It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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