Research Observations About Lying
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> Lying > Research Observations About Lying
Truth-tellers | Techniques | So what
In analysis of 60 studies of deception, UCLA professor Edward Geiselman and
colleagues noted a number of common factors about liars.
It was found that common observations and discoveries about
what liars do are as follows (with potential motivations added):
- Reduce the chances of slipping up by saying noticeably less rather than
- Feel guilty, so add justification without being prompted.
- Gain time by repeating questions asked of them and then speaking slowly.
- When they gain confidence, speaking faster to avoid suspicion, get
things over and done with, or to block challenges.
- Watch you carefully to see if you have accepted their story.
- Be thinking hard at the same time as speaking and so make verbal slips
such as using sentence fragments and going back to correct themselves.
- Indicate unwillingness to answer sensitive questions by pressing their
- Feel stressed and so touch themselves in comforting grooming gestures.
- Feel the need to protect themselves and so move their hands towards
- When asked a difficult question will look away (as truthful people will)
then quickly look back to monitor how you are observing them.
People who are telling the truth are effectively the opposite of the above,
and so may:
- Speak at length, with comfort.
- Speak at a consistent speed which is their normal rate.
- Do not feel the need to justify what they are saying.
- Feel comfortable and gesture outwards.
- Look away to think about a difficult question.
Techniques for getting to the truth
The conclusions for getting to the truth are that you should:
- Encourage them to speak more, for example by asking
- Do not interrupt them. Let them talk and encourage continuation, for
- Ask them to tell their stories backwards to increase the cognitive load
(possibly overloading them).
When you are confronted with a potential liar, as well as other methods,
focus on the observations above. Note that these are not everything and that if
a person shows one or two behaviors this does not mean they are lying.