Telling white lies and fibs are something that just about everyone does from time to time. In fact, they can even be necessary for your survival. If a woman asks you, "Hunny do these pants make me look fat"? It is in your best interest to say NO, even if you are blatantly lying to your significant other's face. However, some situations have higher stakes (no pun intended), and having the ability to know when someone is lying to you can be crucial. Luckily, being able to detect the signs of a lie can be learned by reading the person's body language.
It's been said that over 90% of communication is non-verbal. This means that there is a lot more to a person than just what they say. In fact, once you get better at being able to "read between the lines", you will notice that much of what people say isn't exactly congruent with what their body is saying.
So here are some things to look for the next time you think someone is lying to you.
(It is important to remember to read non-verbal cues in clusters since an isolated gesture can have a certain meaning given its context)
The Mouth Cover-The hand covers the mouth as the brain subconsciously tells it try and suppress the deceitful lies being said. Often times, the liar will try and over this gesture up with a fake cough.
The Nose Touch-Consists of one to several small rubs of the bottom of the nose. According to a study done at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, chemicals known as catecholamines are released causing tissue inside the nose to swell. This is known as the "Pinocchio Effect". The chemicals cause a slight irritation that urge a person to rub or scratch it.
The Eye Rub-This is the brain's attempt to block out the deceit, doubt, or distasteful thing it sees, or to avoid having to look at the face of the person who is being lied to. Women will do a more subtle and softer gesture in hopes to not smudge their make up.
The Ear Grab- Happens when the person who is lying tugs or rubs the back of the ear. It also comes in the form of tugging at the earlobe or beding the entire ear forward.
Fingers-In-The-Mouth- This occurs when a person uses the satisfaction that comes from an oral fixation to calm himself down when they are lying. This can also be seen when a person inserts either a cigarette, pen, glasses, or gum into their mouth.
Pupil Dilation- A person's pupils will dilate up to four sizes. It is important to remember that dilation can also occur depending on the lighting. So it may not be the most effective tool in detecting signs of a lie.
Eye Contact- Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that people will actually hold eye contact when lying. It is believed that these people do so in attempts to try and do the opposite of what would normally be expected.
Blinking- The average person blinks six to eight times per minute. Each blink lasts about a tenth of a second. However, a person who is lying will increase their blinking rate.
Eye Movement- The eyes of a person move when they want to access certain parts of their brain. American psychologists Grinder and Bandler developed this concept in a field of study called Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). Eyes that move to the left side do so to RECALL imagery(up), sounds(mid), or for self-talk(down). Eyes that move to the right do so to CREATE imagery(up), noises(mid), or to recall an emotion(down). So a person that moves their eyes to the right (your left) in a sudden and unconscious fashion may be making something up on the spot. Just be aware that these movements can happen in a fraction of a second.
The Collar Pull- Lies cause a tingling sensation in the delicate facial and neck tissues. Increased blood pressure also causes you to perspire on your neck, which leads a person to pull their collar to allow air to circulate. This also happens when a person is angry or frustrated.
The Neck Scratch- This is one of the classics signs of a lie. The index finger of the dominant hand scratches the side of the neck below the earlobe. This gesture reveals that the person has doubt or uncertainty. The amount of scratches usually comes in fives.
Crossed arms- Can signify that the person is closing them self off or creating a barrier between them and the person they are lying to.
Open Palms- Showing your palms is a way of showing another person that you come in peace. By demonstrating that you have nothing in your hands, you are essentially telling the person that you are not "holding" anything back. Many people who are truly innocent will raise both hands up with their palms facing outward in surrender. Those who may be lying will be more reluctant to do so.
Becoming a human lie detector test is a process and is something that you will improve on with time. Again, it is crucial that body language be read in clusters. This will prevent someone from misinterpreting a gesture that may have been purely contextual. As you begin to get better and better, remember that people lie for different reasons. Some of these may be fear, anxiety, confusion, or a number of other things. So be forgiving and use this new skill as a way to better understand others around you and not as a way to simply call them out or make them feel bad. It should always be about improving the quality of both your life and those of your peers.
References(Book): The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan & Barbara Pease