The ability to know whether somebody is being honest is a valuable skill to learn. Following a disaster it will allow you to know whether somebody wishes you harm, and it will allow you to know who you can trust. The government may play down the severity of the situation to avoid mass panic, but you will know when it’s time to leave.
Generally we like to believe that we are already good at spotting lies but on average we can only detect deception with about 54% accuracy. 54%? That is only just slightly better than chance. However, this can be improved to around 90% accuracy with a little practice according to Science of People.
In order to effectively know when somebody is lying, you must first know how they usually act. This is the process of establishing a baseline.
“A baseline is how someone acts when they are under normal, non-threatening conditions. It is how someone looks when they are telling the truth”
If you don’t know how somebody usually acts when they are telling the truth, you can’t expect to know when they are lying. Below you will find a list of some common behaviors to keep an eye out for.
Don’t Trust the Eyes
Before we actually get started I want to quickly mention about the eyes. Many sites say that when somebody is lying they may look to either side, however, this is NOT a reliable method of lie detection at all.
1. The Way They Speak
First try to assess how someone normally speaks by asking a couple of simple questions that you already know the answers to, like “What’s your full name?” or “Where do you live?” You will be able to spot if they are naturally animated and talk fast, or if they are more subdued. Once you know how they normally talk when telling the truth you can ask questions that you don’t know the answer to. If you notice big differences in their manner, then chances are he’s not being honest.
Another tip that I believe falls in to the way somebody speaks is when they have an answer for everything. Try asking anybody that you know what they did last Friday night and they will have to think about it. When you ask somebody and without pause they reel off a clearly rehearsed answer, they may not be being truthful.
2. Are They Still
When somebody tells a lie they try to “act” as normal as possible. This can include sitting or standing unusually still. They may keep their movements minimized or even pull their arms and legs in toward their body, mostly as a result of being tense or nervous. People are generally more relaxed and may exhibit more fluidity and movement in their body when things are normal but they may become stiff or rigid when they are telling a lie.
3. Body Language
We have all asked somebody how they are doing and they say that they are fine but their body language tells you otherwise. When somebody lies, the timing between what they are saying and what they are expressing may be off or their expressions may be mismatched to their words. Another common sign is when somebody is shaking their head ‘no’ while replying yes to a question.
4. Covering Mouth/Eyes
When somebody is lying they will often hide their mouth or eyes. There is a natural tendency to want to cover over a lie, so if a person’s hand goes in front of their mouth whilst answering a question, that’s significant and should be noted. Similarly, there’s a natural inclination to shield oneself from the reaction of those who are being lied to. If they shield their eyes whilst responding, again, it could be a clear sign of a lie. Ask more questions and see if this changes.
5. Too Much Detail
A liar will generally make things up as they go along and with this, they have a tendency to add plenty of extra detail to try and better convince people of what they are saying. They may also embellish with details that a person who is telling the truth wouldn’t think of adding.
Join us soon for part 2 for more on becoming a human lie detector.