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Signs Of Lying: Here's What Will And Will Not Help You Detect Lies

Stashed in: Conversations, Silence, Terms, Think!, @bakadesuyo, Awesome, Pants on fire!, Psychology, @richardwiseman, Deception, The Nature of the Beast

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To look for lying, look for thinking:

Lying is hard because it makes you think. You need to think up the lies. That’s extra work.

Looking for nervousness can be a wild goose chase. Looking for signs of thinking hard can be a great strategy.

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I had no idea Richard Wiseman studied this subject:

Via Richard Wiseman’s excellent book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

They tend not to move their arms and legs so much, cut down on gesturing, repeat the same phrases, give shorter and less detailed answers, take longer before they start to answer, and pause and hesitate more. In addition, there is also evidence that they distance themselves from the lie, causing their language to become more impersonal. As a result, liars often reduce the number of times that they say words such as “I,” “me,” and “mine,” and use “him” and “her” rather than people’s names. Finally, is increased evasiveness, as liars tend to avoid answering the question completely, perhaps by switching topics or by asking a question of their own.

To detect deception, forget about looking for signs of tension, nervousness, and anxiety. Instead, a liar is likely to look as though they are thinking hard for no good reason, conversing in a strangely impersonal tone, and incorporating an evasiveness that would make even a politician or a used-car salesman blush.

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..."Finally, is increased evasiveness, as liars tend to avoid answering the question completely, perhaps by switching topics or by asking a question of their own." 


I guess that's an indirect indictment of great salespeople, psychologists, consultants and those of us who just happen to have a cultural heritage that is traditionally skewed that way, like mine, a la the apocryphal joke:

A Gentile friend asks me, "Hey, how come whenever I ask you a question you always answer my question with a question?"

I say, "What kind of question is that?"

Can you always answer a question with a question?

Sure, why not?

Experts at detecting lies make the suspected liar think harder:

That’s what police detectives do:

  • Have people tell their story backwards, starting at the end and systematically working their way back. Instruct them to be as complete and detailed as they can. This technique, part of a “cognitive interview” Geiselman co-developed with Ronald Fisher, a former UCLA psychologist now at Florida International University, “increases the cognitive load to push them over the edge.” A deceptive person, even a “professional liar,” is “under a heavy cognitive load” as he tries to stick to his story while monitoring your reaction.
  • Ask open-ended questions to get them to provide as many details and as much complete information as possible (“Can you tell me more about…?” “Tell me exactly…”). First ask general questions, and only then get more specific.
  • Don’t interrupt, let them talk and use silent pauses to encourage them to talk.

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Wow, changing up the chronology during interrogation is an awesome tactic. I love it!

People who are good at it can change chronology without it seeming like an interrogation.

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