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Research Observations About Lying

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Lying > Research Observations About Lying

Liars | 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.

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 more.
  • 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 lips together.
  • Feel stressed and so touch themselves in comforting grooming gestures.
  • Feel the need to protect themselves and so move their hands towards their body. 
  • When asked a difficult question will look away (as truthful people will) then quickly look back to monitor how you are observing them.

Truth-tellers

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 open questions.
  • Do not interrupt them. Let them talk and encourage continuation, for example with pauses.
  • Ask them to tell their stories backwards to increase the cognitive load (possibly overloading them).

So what?

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.

See also

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510101627.htm (accessed 23-May-11)

 

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