How to Tell if Someone is Lying to You

(WellnessPursuits) – According to some psychologists, most people lie in about 30 percent of their interactions. With all this potential dishonesty floating around, how do we separate the truth from all the lies?

Are You Being Lied To? Here’s How to Tell.

Visual Cues

While there is some debate over the use and accuracy of visual cues — as certain factors can affect how people lie — researchers do agree that some indicators are more common than others. Examples of visual cues that may indicate deception include:

  • Dry mouth: People’s bodies can react strangely to stress, and the stress of lying will quickly dry out the average person’s mouth. If a person’s mouth gets drier and drier the longer they speak, and they don’t have any other reason to be nervous, they’re probably lying.
  • Head movement: Some people will display an unusual twisting, jerking back, or bowing of the head right before answering a question deceptively. If you’ve ever witnessed someone feigning surprise or ignorance, you know the look.
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  • Changes in breathing: People can suddenly speak as though they’re out of breath when they’re nervous, a reaction to their racing heart. This can happen when someone is nervous about their lie and fearful of being discovered.
  • Changes in movement: While we tend to look for fidgeting when we suspect someone is lying, some people overcompensate by becoming completely still, or they may be stiff from being nervous. Relaxed people make subtle gestures when they’re talking, but those who are anxious may tense or freeze up.
  • Covering up: Some people will cover their mouths while they lie, while others will cover the neck, throat, head, chest or other vital body part. The areas all reveal a feeling of vulnerability, discomfort with a topic or situation, or the need to create a subconscious sense of personal shielding while sharing a lie.

Verbal Cues

How a person presents their information can be just as telling as their body language. Here are a few verbal cues you might notice if a person is trying to deceive you.

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  • Repetition: People tend to repeat key words and phrases when they’re lying. They’re trying to convince themselves the truthfulness of their story just as much as they’re trying to convince you. Sometimes people repeat themselves — or your questions — while they’re trying to formulate their next response.
  • Over-elaboration: When people lie, they often feel the need to offer extra details to sound more plausible. Sometimes they’ll try to appear more transparent, or even unusually open with you, hoping that will leave you more open to the deception.
  • Change in pitch: Most people’s voices will change slightly in pitch when they’re lying. While many authorities agree pitch tends to go higher when a person lies, some studies have shown cultural influences can alter that behavior. For example, some studies have shown those from Hispanic backgrounds were more likely to lower their vocal pitches when lying. Sometimes, however, the change in pitch is so minute only a computer can detect it.

Other Considerations

While we can look for certain cues, researchers warn that people do deviate from such general behaviors all the time. While a person might typically cover their mouth or offer too much information while lying, some people might do those same things simply out of nervousness or being upset.

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Dealing with deception is a necessary part of interacting with other people, and while you can find indicators of lies through voice and body language, they can only help you so far. It’s just as easy to see a lie where you’re expecting one — or the truth when that’s what you want to see. Be on the lookout for indicators, but also make sure to use them with care. The last thing you want to do is alienate yourself from someone who’s being truthful over a mistaken cue.

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