Dr. Paul Eckman discusses the role of microexpressions, involuntary facial tics triggered when one lies. While they occur in the blink of an eye, they are – in fact — detected and processed by the subconscious mind. As this part of the brain analyzes these gestures, it sends an alert to the conscious mind as a vague sense that something doesn’t “feel right,” or as its more commonly known, a “gut instinct.” As such, you should always trust your instincts,as they are based on legitimate but incomplete indicators of deceit.
By Chris Simmons
When someone clears their throat or noticeably swallows after answering a question, it may simply mean they’re feeling stressed. However, if they exhibit this behavioral cue prior to answering a question, they are likely lying or the question is dangerously close to a subject they will lie about to keep secret. In the deception-centered scenario, the throat clearing/swallowing may be a response to anxiety-induced dry mouth.
So, you can’t really tell if someone’s lying on the internet, can you? Believe me, if we could, you’d have A LOT less members on dating sites. I did, however, get some expert advice when it comes to our kids and their fibs. Lieutenant Colonel Chris Simmons has just authored a book called Human Chess: A spy’s guide to understanding and influencing others, and he sits down to talk with me about how we can recognize our kid’s habits when they’re lying to us. Fortunately, Simmons tells us that most youngster’s lies are lies of omission -but this changes as they get older. Get ready parents -and get the book! — Chad Brummett, Host of 2 KASA Style
By Chris Simmons
In trying to deceive, liars may refer to previous statements in an attempt to create the illusion they have been cooperative and to buy themselves more time. This is true even if the earlier claim was actually a “non-answer.” In this countermeasure, typical replies would include “As I told you earlier…” “We already addressed those allegations…” or “Like I told Mom…”
Stating something once often leaves little or no impression. However, every subsequent “telling” erodes our skepticism or disbelief. Repetition is a subtle and often underestimated psychological tool. Even when we don’t believe someone, the recurring response reverberates within our mind and over time, can open one to the possibility that he/she is telling the truth.
As Vladimir Lenin so famously said, “A lie, told often enough, becomes the truth.”
Reminder: No single technique is foolproof. It is simply one of many tools available to help you discern the truth. However, deception generally manifests in a cluster of behavioral cues, which often provides opportunities to use several additional tools (in sequence) to preclude you from being lied to or manipulated.
By Chris Simmons
People often hide their mouths or eyes when they are attempting to deceive. They accomplish this by shielding their eyes or mouth with the open palm facing inward. When blocking the mouth, their hand gestures will close enough to their face to intentionally conceal your view of their mouth but far enough away so as to not obstruct their words. These gestures aid the deceiver because it makes them feel as if they are literally hiding the lie. When they use their hands to cover the eyes, its because they do not want to make eye contact, nor do they want to see your reaction to their deceit. Additionally, an oft-seen variant of eye-shielding is simply an extended closing of the eyes.
Conversely, when a person physically covers their mouth with their hand, it generally indicates a strong desire not to speak, rather than intent to deceive. However, the physical blocking of the mouth also suggests the person prefers not to speak because you’re not going to like what they have to say. As such, the covering is an avoidance technique used to prevent an uncomfortable situation.
By Chris Simmons
When a dishonest person is unexpectedly confronted, he/she often panics and parrots back a denial using the same words you just asked. This allows them to answer quickly and thereby (hopefully) appear honest. At a minimum, it buys them time to think while you formulate your follow-on question(s). For example:
Me: “Did you take $20 from my wallet?”
Guilty child: “No, I did not take $20 from your wallet.”
Me (confused): “I could have sworn I had a twenty in there. Do you remember me buying anything yesterday?”
Guilty child: “Not that I recall.”
The above discussion actually contains three classic signs of deception. The guilty child’s first response is a textbook negative parroting of what I’d just asked. Additionally, note that a guilty person tends to avoid using contractions so they can add emphasis to the denial. Statistically, if the person you suspect uses a contraction in their reply, there is actually a 60% chance that they are telling the truth.
Then, when I followed-up up with a simple “yes or no” question, the child avoided a definitive response in favor of a “memory” retort. Such answers are unqualified, allowing the guilty party to amend their reply later by claiming they remembered a relevant fact/detail. Vague and unqualified answers provide liars with the latitude to verbally escape. The more precise the answer, the more they are boxed-in to a specific storyline.
By Chris Simmons
1. A person cannot look you directly in the eye while lying.
False. In fact, many experienced liars intentionally maintain eye contact as a means of appearing honest.
2. A single gesture can prove whether someone is lying.
False. The human body reacts adversely when we lie, broadcasting its discomfort with a cluster of signs (e.g., tapping fingers, bouncing leg, fidgeting). No single gesture is sufficiently accurate by itself to be used as a sign of deception.
3. If you think someone is being dishonest, watch their face for involuntary signs of deception (known as “tells”).
False. Almost all the lies one will ever tell originate from the face. It is the most experienced part of our body when it comes to deception. Instead, watch the extremities, as this is often where the behavioral clusters will first be noticed.
4. Lying is a cooperative act.
True. A lie has no power of its own. It only becomes influential when accepted as the truth by the victim.
5. Sex is one of the few acts that can naturally occur using just nonverbal communication.
True. Nonverbal communication can be accurately described as the language of love. It consists of body language and utterances (i.e., voice pitch, volume, speed, as well as “nonwords” like sighs). The nonverbals comprise at least 60% of any spoken message. The more emotionally invested the speaker is in his/her message, the higher the percentage of the nonverbal component.
Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.
By Chris Simmons
Yesterday we covered the simple beauty of the Liar’s Law of Attraction. As readers are aware, the biggest limitation of this Law is that it simply identifies that a lie of omission has occurred. In contrast, if one is willing to tell a lie to catch a liar, you can get to the truth by capitalizing on the liar’s existing paranoia and irrationality.
For example, let’s assume I’m interrogating a suspected terrorist. I begin our interaction by recounting many – if not all – of the facts we both secretly know to be true. I then add a false fact to use as a red herring. In contrast to the original’s law’s focus on the familiar, in this variation the liar immediately focuses on the unfamiliar as a potential way out of his current dilemma.
I truthfully accuse him of two bombings in Baghdad in April, May bombings in Basra and Kirkuk, and a July assassination in Ramadi. I then lie and accuse him of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack on a convoy out of the northern city of Mosul just two weeks ago.
My version of the events has caught him by surprise and provided him with an alibi. He immediately responds by claiming we’ve captured the wrong man. He was nowhere near Mosul two weeks ago and insists that he has friends and family that can verify he has been in Kirkuk for the last two months.
An honest person would have focused on the broader strategic implications of my accusations. i.e., you are a terrorist with a long history of violence against people and property. You will be tried for war crimes.
Instead, fear and paranoia manifest in the classic “freeze, fight or flight” defense. My lie appears to have offered the terrorist a way out (i.e., the ability to flee) and he fixates on the opportunity to escape. What he doesn’t realize is that by focusing on an event that never occurred, he has inadvertently admitted to the other attacks.