I have been doing some interesting reading, and I thought I would share with you some interesting information on how to spot a liar.

This should be a useful tool over this holiday weekend.

Busting the relatives is always a fun deal. Was uncle Harvey really a war hero? Did daddy really enjoy going to your brother's piano recitals?

First, let's dispel some myths.

How many of you believe that if someone crosses their arms or has a closed posture that this means they are lying?

What about excess blinking?

What about excessive touching of the face?

What about increased blood flow to the face?

Or incongruities between body language and speech content?

Is someone lying to you when they can't look you in eye?

What about the NLP fans who believe that someone is lying if they look to the right?

These are just a sample of "indicators" I was able to come up with just by browsing the net.

Well, I am sorry to say that they are all misguided (in other words they are flat wrong).

So, is it impossible to tell if someone is lying to you?

According to the research, it really is impossible if you are focusing on visual cues.

Looking for visual cues, it turns out, is absolutely the most unreliable way to spot a liar.

This was demonstrated by research done across the globe by a psychologist from TCU, Dr. Charles Bond. Turns out that it was the myths above that actually prevented subjects from spotting a lie.*

However, there is hope. It turns out the best way to spot a lie is to use your ears.

It is all about what a person says and how they say it.**

In fact, it has been demonstrated by Richard Wiseman Ph.D. (a pretty famous researcher and author of a book you simply have to read "Quirkology") that people without deception training are much better at detecting deception when listening to a tape recording of a liar than when watching a video.

So even without training, your unconscious mind is able to do a half way decent job of detecting a lie if you don't focus on visual cues.

However, with training, your odds are going to go way up.

Here are the four easy ways to spot a lie:***

1. Liars tend to say less. The more someone says, the more likely it is that some of those words are going to haunt them. Lies will have far less detail (in other words, they will be more general).

2. Liars also tend to distance themselves from their lies. They will include fewer references to themselves and won't use a lot of words indicating feelings. The use of the word, "I" will be less prevalent.

3. Liars never forget. For some reason liars forget that most people forget things so they will never admit they don't remember a certain aspect of their story. Somehow the lie creates a super human memory – which of course they are inventing.

4. A person will also have more pauses and hesitation when they are lying. It takes energy and thought to lie, this leads to little "thinking" pauses.

A disclaimer, BE CAREFUL! Nothing is perfect, these just make it far more likely that you can spot a lie. So please – no family feuds over this stuff!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday… Really.


*The Global Deception Research Team, "A World of Lies,"Journal of of Cross-Cultural Psychology 37, no.1 (2006):60-74

**DePaulo, Bella M. and Wendy L. Morris (2004), "Discerning lies from truth: behavioral cues to deception and the indirect pathway of intuition," in The Detection of Deception in Forensic Contexts, Pär Anders Granhag and Leif A. Strömwall, eds. New York: Cambridge University Press, 15-40.

***Wiseman, R. (2007). Quirkology. London, UK: Pan Macmillan, 58-60.