Your husband or wife comes home late for the fourth time this week, and there’s a number you don’t recognize on their phone. They tell you that it’s all work-related and there’s nothing to worry about. Are they lying?
Not all lies are exactly dramatic, either. A recent TED Talks reported that the average person hears anywhere from 10 to a whopping 200 lies each day. Even if you are to assume that most of them are little white lies that you’re guilty of yourself, (you know, telling your best friend that your phone died as a reason why you didn’t respond to that text asking you to come out when you just wanted to sleep), it’s still a pretty startling number.
So, how exactly can you tell if someone is lying? Well, unfortunately, people’s noses don’t grow. But there are physical signs that are used by detectives and professionals that you can look for to be able to deduce whether or not a person is being honest or if they’re guilty of being the proverbial liar, liar, pants on fire.
12. They Blink Less
It’s commonly known to look for nervous behavior to tell if someone is lying. But one thing that will generally stay very calm -a little too calm- is a person’s blinking. A study conducted at Portsmouth University showed that people who lie, blink less than normal during their lie, and then have a rapid flurry up to eight times faster than normal after the lie is told.
11. Their Speech Patterns Change
If someone is lying, be prepared to look for notable changes in their standard speech patterns, including pausing more frequently, slower than normal speech, and stuttering. As a person is lying, they are also trying to keep their “facts” straight in their head and are thinking much harder than if they were telling the truth. Their brain subconsciously takes opportunities for extra time by slowing and changing their speech patterns.
10. They Point Their Finger
This one can be tricky if you’re talking with someone who talks a lot with their hands. But finger pointing specifically, is the brain’s way of trying to turn the focus off of itself and onto the other person. So, if you ask your significant other where they’ve been all night and they get defensive and start asking you where you’ve been all night, while pointing their finger, you might want to dig a little deeper.
9. They Shuffle Their Feet
One of the nervous manifestations that can frequently be found when someone is fibbing is that they shuffle their feet. Fidgeting can be hard to pinpoint if someone is already a fidgety kind of person, but feet shuffling and rapid toe-tapping is a good indicator that something is afoot.
8. Prepare For TMI
When someone starts going into a lot of detail, especially if you only asked a simple question, then there’s a better-than-average chance that they might be fibbing. So, when you ask your friend if she’s going to be able to come to your party this weekend, and she starts going on about how she might not be able to make it because her great aunt Dottie on her father’s side – you know, the one who got her those crystal candlesticks for her wedding that she never uses – needs help moving because she threw her back out while trying a spinning class, which is why she told her that she should be taking water aerobics anyway… Then chances are she’s actually going to be binge-watching Scandal on Netflix instead.
7. Their Voice Gets High Pitched
Looking for changes in speech patterns also includes the pitch of the voice. If a person is lying, they can often start to speak in a noticeably higher pitch. Look for the change directly after you ask them a question. A high-pitched “No!” could signal that they’re not being truthful over a calmer, “No, why do you ask?”
6. They Turn Their Head Quickly
Professionals who are trained in detecting lies are always on the lookout for sudden head movements. If you ask someone a question that they aren’t comfortable answering, a natural reaction is for them to jerk their head. It often can manifest itself as looking up and then quickly away to the side as they prepare to lie.
5. They Reference Themselves Less
In the same principle as the finger pointing rule, people who are being deceptive naturally want to keep the focus off of themselves as much as possible. To do this, they use statements that reference themselves on average much less than they would otherwise, and talk more about others in order to create distance between themselves and the lie. Ted Talks analyzed two interviews from Lance Armstrong – one in 2005 when he denied using performance enhancing drugs, and the other in 2010, when he admitted to using them. What they found was that Armstrong’s use of personal pronouns increased by nearly 75 percent when he was being honest.
4. They Become Repetitive
When you notice someone repeating a word or a phrase, over and over again, it might be because they’re lying. Repetition can often show that a person is trying to buy some time while they gather their thoughts. It can also show that they are really trying to sell the lie – both to themselves and to the person to whom they are lying.
3. They Touch Their Mouth
It is reported that we only have about five percent control over our nervous physical habits and that the other 95 percent occurs without us even realizing it. So be on the lookout for someone who puts their hands up to their face or mouth frequently while lying. One big red flag of this can be, but is not limited to, nail biting.
2. They Place Blame On Anybody Else
If you’re asking an employee if they know anything about a file that has gone missing and they respond with a high-pitched, “No! Have you asked Kerry from sales? She was working with it last week.” Then they might not be telling the entire truth. When someone is being honest, they don’t feel the need to place the blame on someone else because they already know that they’re not guilty.
1. Their Breathing Pattern Changes
Breathing is one of the biggest physical changes a person’s body goes through while telling a lie, and it is one of the points of analysis of lie detector tests. If you notice that someone’s breathing becomes more rapid, they could very well be covering up a lie. When we lie, our heart rate increases, which affects breathing. If their shoulders rise and words become shallow, it’s a good sign that they’re becoming short of breath.