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Four Things To Notice As You Learn How To Detect Lies

Four Things To Notice As You Learn How To Detect Lies

People’s fascination with lie detection has been demonstrated by the popularity of TV shows and movies such as Lie To Me and The Negotiator, where complex concepts such as micro-expressions and eye movement patterns are reduced to sound-bytes that make them easy for public consumption. While it is true that the more time and energy you put into studying lie detection techniques the better a “people reader” you will become, you can also pick up some fast and easy techniques to help you learn how to detect lies.

To begin detecting dishonest statements, it is helpful to get a feel for the overall landscape of lie detection. The broad areas you will want to pay attention to are body language, emotional signals, interactions which reveal guilt or discomfort, word choice and physiology.

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You may want to watch this video to have a brief idea first:

Body Language

When noticing body language for the purposes of learning how to detect lies, start contrasting someone’s non-verbal communication by establishing a baseline of veracity. One way to do this is to make a statement that you know to be true and then mentally record how the subject’s body looks when they respond. For example, if you know the person went to Hawaii for vacation, state firmly, “So you went to Hawaii last month for a week. Fantastic!” Then state something that you know to be false: “And you took a cruise there. What an experience!” Watch as they non-verbally disagree and then watch their body language as they correct you. Now you have two mental snap shots of their “yes” and “no” that will give you a baseline for further calibration. In the future, when you make “yes” or “no” statements or questions, you should see the same physiology as the baseline that you established. If not, there could be deception involved.

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Here is some general physiology people display when they are lying:

  • Stiff or limited hand and arm movements
  • Decreased eye contact
  • Increased hand contact with face
  • Body language does not match words

Emotional Signals

The way people express emotions can reveal whether they are being honest or not. In this category, simply becoming aware of abnormal expressions of emotions will help you learn how to detect lies.

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  • Watch for delayed emotions
  • Notice emotions that last longer than what is natural for the person
  • Emotional expression is limited to one area of the face rather than the whole face

Word Choice

Our choice of words can reveal dishonesty as well. When a person is creating a deception, they need to distance themselves from the lie due to the cognitive dissonance created by the deception. To do this, they alter how they represent the lie to themselves, and this representation will cause a waterfall effect on their language.

Of special and recent interest, even our pronoun usage can reveal whether we are lying or telling the truth. According to Dr. James W. Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin, pronouns such as “I,” “me” and “my” show ownership of a statement. Therefore, when someone is lying, they will use these pronouns less, as they are further linguistic signs of distance from the lie.

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  • A person being dishonest will make less direct statements.
  • They will often repeat your exact words.
  • Unnecessary details are added to the deceptive statement.
  • A statement with a contraction like “wouldn’t” or “didn’t” is more likely to be truthful than the uncontracted form.
  • Liars will interject words like “actually,” “to be honest,” or “frankly.”
  • An abrupt change of subject is another sign of dishonesty.

Physiological Symptoms

Much of what has been written previously about how to detect lies is within the conscious control of the deceptive person. There are, however, “tells” that are generally outside a person’s consciousness that are harder to repress or control.

  • Sweating can be a sign of lying.
  • Lying can cause an increase in the secretion of the hormone adrenaline. This causes a fluctuation in saliva production, which causes the person to first have to swallow more and later clear their throat due to dryness.
  • Since the heart is usually beating faster, a person being dishonest will breathe faster.
  • Decreased blinking of the eyes can also be a sign of lying.

While lying is prevalent, it does not come naturally. Deep down, most people want to tell the truth, even when they feel they need to lie. To accomplish this feat, the brain goes into cognitive overload in order to provide the resources necessary to pull off the lie. Since the mind and body are connected in various ways, it makes sense that when the brain has an increase on its cognitive load, the body will show symptoms. The single key to becoming good at lie detection is to look at the big picture (all of the above indications) in relation to the person you are observing. Make sure you account for cultural norms and personal idiosyncrasies by gaining rapport with the individual you are studying. Keep an open mind and stay relaxed, and you will be on your way to becoming a master lie detector!

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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