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Detecting Lies: 10 Subtle Body Language Signs of Lying

26 June 2013 25 Comments

 It is human nature to lie. Lies are spoken everyday, by the people you see at work, your family and your friends. The following techniques to telling if someone is lying are often used by police, and security experts on body language signs. This knowledge is also useful for managers, employers, and for anyone to use in everyday situations where telling the truth from a lie can help prevent you from being a victim of fraud/scams and other deceptions. 

  • A person who is lying to you will avoid making eye contact. If they won’t look you inliar the eye’s or if they look you in the eye’s while saying “I’m looking you in the eye’s, so I’m not lying.” They are probably lying. They will normally raise their voice, get defensive and will totally want to change the subject. Go with your first gut feeling that feeling is normally right.
  • Hands touching their face, throat & mouth. Touching or scratching the nose or behind their ear. Not likely to touch his chest/heart with an open hand according body language signs. 
  • The guilty person may speak more than natural, adding unnecessary details to convince you… they are not comfortable with silence or pauses in the conversation.Also, the guilty person use humor or sarcasm to avoid a subject.
  • Timing and duration of emotional gestures and emotions are off a normal pace. The display of emotion is delayed, stays longer it would naturally, and then stops suddenly. Timing is off between emotions gestures/expressions and words. Example: Someone says “I love it!” when receiving a gift, and then smile after making that statement, rather then at the same time the statement is made.                                          
  • A liar will use your words to make answer a question. When asked, “Did you eat the last cookie?” The liar answers, “No, I did not eat the last cookie.”A statement with a contraction is more likely to be truthful: “ I didn’t do it” instead of “I did not do it”.
  • If you believe someone is lying, then change subject of a conversation quickly, a liar follows along willingly and becomes more relaxed. The guilty wants the subject changed; an innocent person may be confused by the sudden change in topics and will want to back to the previous subject.
  • Excessive gestures are important body language signs indicating lies. In aliar subconscious effort to enhance believability, a liar will promote his/her words with unnaturally pronounced gesturing. Also on a subconscious level, the body language serves to divert attention from the dishonest words and face.
  • Shifting from foot to foot is often the body language of a liar. Similarly, a liar doesn’t always keep his/her feet flat on the ground (whether standing or sitting). This body language generally falls under signs of the “flight instinct” category, which stems from fear or discomfort–both emotions that are triggered by telling lies.
  • A liar frequently mumbles or speaks in a lowered, monotonous tone, especially at the exact time lies are being uttered. Such modulations in speech are primarily signs that either the liar lacks confidence that the lies are believable, or that the liar feels guilty about telling the lies. From a body language standpoint, these signs are often accompanied by a lowered head and slouching shoulders.
  • Justification – Attempting to justify every detail with lengthy explanations . Also, the lies uses (and particularly overuses) body language  like “honestly,” “believe me,” “to tell the truth,” etc. S/he is almost certainly being deceptive.

       Life would be far easier for some people if there were a foolproof method for spotting lies. However, whatever method we use there is always the possibility that our assumptions or estimations will be incorrect. Clearly, it would be far easier still if people simply didn’t lie in the first place. But then how would you keep children from learning the truth about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy?


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  • Zura said:

    I don’t seem to have to deal with people directly lying to me very often. What I do often deal with is people who apparently truthfully say things, but later change their mind, forget they said it, or just don’t follow through. Thus, what they told me becomes a lie after the fact.

  • Marco said:

    Thanks for the tips on how to be a better liar.

  • Jenny said:

    My mom can always tell I’m lying because I either cry or laugh. hehe

  • Josef said:

    One the psychology course i took a guy who was researching witness-psycology said that these are common myths about signs of lying…

    according to him the only way to distinguish a lyer is that their body-languages tends to be a little more controlled than normal and their voice tends to have a slightly lower pitch than normal

    sorry to be one of those “experts”, i hate myself

  • Chintz said:

    These listed signs are too vague to actually aid in lie detection. If it is true that these so-called “…techniques to telling if someone is lying are often used by police, and security experts,” then I bet a lot of truth-tellers are actually being wrongly
    tarred as as being liars.

    I wouldn’t rely on any of these signs to spot a liar as they are far too general and too easily confused with body gestures which people make for a variety of different reasons, none of which have anything to do with lying..

    One must be familiar with a person’s normal behavior and speech patterns for any of these signs for a lie to be detected.

    Now, if you really want to spot a liar, watch their pubic region. Both men and woman when they are lying or telling a falsehood make a small involuntary movement near that part of the body. It takes practice to see (easier to see in men as they wear trousers, impossible to detect in a woman if she is wearing a loose-fitting skirt) as it is a very rapid jerking movement caused by a tightening of the urethra . This is hard to detect if the person is sitting.

    Think about the phrase: “Liar, Liar, pants on fire” and you can connect the dots.

  • G.S. said:

    What’s amazing I’ve seen all this in people; a good,quick guide to activating your BS detector.

  • Izabela Bogdanovic said:

    This is a very good list. Anyhow, it requires following addition: behavior alterations are relative and individual.

    If you are to judge somebody’s body language alteration you need to compare the questionable new behavior to their common behavior. Basically, you need to know this person whose behavior you are investigating.

    I have a new set of questions: will you trust a stranger? If not, does this make you wise or overly scared and unsocial person?

  • Chris Hughes said:

    Yeah, a lot of the time people wont directly lie to you or they wont see it as lying if they don’t tell you something you’d want to know.

    Mostly people wont actively lie.

    Great article though.

  • Borton said:

    I’ve never heard of the urethra contraction thing, but what you generally find is that anything that tells you how to detect lies is very vague and general. Ussually, you just can’t tell by single factors alone. You often need to know a person and their ordinarry habits to see it. However, people do give off some unconcious signals, and just as they are given off, we can unconciously detect them. The best thing to go on is intuition.

  • Edison Maxwell said:

    As the saying goes, you can always tell when a politician is lying: his lips are moving.

  • Bulletin News said:

    Kewl view talking about Personal development for a perfect life. Always enjoy this interesting posts.

  • jasmine said:

    thanks for sharing such informations
    now i will be liar doctor


  • Bryan said:

    Everyone Has Lied, A Fact of Life, I don’t care who you are, I myself haven’t lied, but I’ve lied in this very comment.

  • Julia said:

    How about this idea? My husband and I promised our daughter that we would NEVER lie to her about anything. She knew about Santa and the tooth fairy from the beginning. At 8 years old, she loves Christmas and the idea of pretending that Santa Claus comes. Honesty is always the best policy. Tell the truth, let the chips fall where they may and deal with the results.

  • Ruth Taylor said:

    I usually have fairly good “sensory perception”. However it does help a great deal to know the persons’ usual mannerisms. “All of the above” would be correct, depending upon the individual. I am thinking of two individuals right now, both of whom I know to be frequently dishonest, and also react quite differently. They don’t know that I’m aware but I picked up on it right away. Fascinating subject, isn’t it?

  • Payday Loan said:

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  • Michelle Johnson said:

    Hi Wow what a fantastic article about Body Language! Your keen insight into Body Language is informative and creative. I look forward to reading other articles you have. Thanks.

  • Douglas Woods said:

    “A person who is lying to you will avoid making eye contact.”

    This is nonsense as it very much depends upon a number of other factors that determine eye contact;
    1) a person with low self esteem may well avoid eye contact
    2) eye contact is a ‘cultural’ thing, many cultures see (sic) eye contact as threatening or offensive and so avoid eye contact
    3) Someone who regards you as being superior to them (e.g. an employee, a pupil) may choose not to give eye contact.

    Eye contact is more about control than communication. If you want the person you are talking to to give you eye contact, then you may well be seeking to control them (unknowingly, perhaps)

  • Alexander said:

    Couldn’t these signs be ones of stress/social anxiety rather than lying? It would be worth discriminating the differences between the two and developing a training to enhance ones credibility in socially stressful situations.

  • Fox said:

    I am a good liar, actually. I feel bad afterwards though.

  • Lindsay said:

    I do a lot of those things in reference to other emotions. I don’t lie, I shoot from the hip and have no regrets.
    *I don’t make eye contact with confrontational people, but I also protest an accusation in a low voice once and allow the other person to decide to believe me or not.
    *If someone is being confrontational, then they change the subject to something else, anything else, I welcome the change, then I can get the upper hand and end the craziness.
    *My nose itches when I’m nervous and confrontation makes me nervous.
    I use the word “honestly” to brace people for something that may hurt their feelings.
    *Being a thorough and careful thinker, it takes me a second to wrap my head around an idea being conveyed by another person, so my emotional responses aren’t immediate.
    *I speak in a low monotonous tone if you’re in A LOT of trouble; it usually means I am SO upset with you that I cannot muster much more.

    I know this list you shared are the ‘text book’ clues, but, I feel, the only way to catch a liar is by uncovering the truth. It usually does it on its own for me. I never have to be nosy or pushy; the truth simply falls into my lap. Most liars aren’t thorough; they lie to you because they think your gullible, so, in turn, they don’t cover their tracks well. If it doesn’t fall into your lap and you still don’t trust the person is telling you the truth, you have a choice… stay in contact with this person OR leave. It’s your choice who you interact with and for how long. Sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do for yourself.

    Thank you for trying to enlighten us. I understand what your were trying to do here. But, I feel, perpetuating myths is as bad as telling lies. I hope a lesson is learned here.

  • Chelsea said:

    Most of these are myths, with little, questionable, or no research to support them.

    Some regular old boring facts:
    Liars are less-cooperative, make more negative statements & complaints, appear less friendly, and their faces appear less pleasant.[DePaulo et al. (2003)]

    A Fun fact! Criminals are found to be the most accurate lie-detectors with an accuracy rate of 57%, closely followed by the Secret Service!

  • Hannie said:

    Interesting enough, I just simply change the subject to see if they are lying. If they get confused, and go back to defending themselves, more than likely, they are telling the truth, but if they are at ease, and go along with the changed subject, then they are lying.

  • Ahmad Fatoni said:

    Great Posting!!
    thanks for your tips.
    this very helps for me..

  • Lena said:

    It seems like many of these signs can also just be habits of introverted people or people who are shy or anxious about social situations

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