Life is full of liars. It’s a sad sad fact. Whether it’s your bank manager, your boyfriend, or your next-door neighbor telling you that he definitely didn’t scratch your car, people lie. But they can be beaten. We spoke to a professional mindreader, Alex McAleer, to find out the Jedi secrets of detecting lies.
Here are his top tips:
Establish a baseline
Establish a ‘baseline’ of his normal behavior and how he talks when he's chatting casually i.e. telling the truth. Then look for when they do something slightly different when you press them on a subject they might lie about.
Watch the nose
Remember when Pinocchio told a lie and his nose grew? Well that’s not far off the truth. When someone lies, especially on the spot, they will get a rush of adrenaline that floods the capillaries in the nose and makes it swell and itch slightly. Liars will often scratch, rub or touch their nose frequently. The same rush of adrenaline is also what makes us blush.
And the eyes
The eyes are the windows to the soul, so if your soul is burning in a hell of eternal damnation because of your filthy rotten lies, they can give the game away. Ask the suspected liar questions and observe his eyes. When he remembers the truth, his eyes will tend to do one thing but, when he makes up an answer, he will do the opposite or something slightly different as he processes the information. Look for odd, sporadic eye movements to get an indication of which parts are true and which are pork pies.
The devil is in the detail. If someone is lying to you they will try extra hard to make you believe the lie. Because of this, they will often add lots of unnecessary detail. If it looks like they’re telling you too much and over embellishing, it’s probably because they’re lying.
Self comforting gestures
People are usually nervous about lying and will perform what psychologists call "self comforting gestures." These are unconscious mannerisms that people do to reassure themselves; things like playing with their hair, stroking the back of their head or adjusting a tie.
Silence is golden
Liars don’t like silence. It freaks them out and they feel the need to fill the dead air. By staying quiet, you are giving them no feedback on whether you believe them or not, which makes them nervous and want to try harder, usually by making the lie even bigger so that you reassure them that you believe it in some way.
For an even more in-depth study of lying, read the piece The Anatomy of Lying.