Judging vs perceiving are two very different actions; they define personality types, relationship dynamics and worldviews. However, sometimes both judgement and perception are incorrect. Protecting yourself from outright lies is a vital skill, and this is a definitive list of signs a friend, foe or colleague may be telling porky pies.
- Non-congruent gestures
Clinical psychologists such as Dr Helen Endriksen – of Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders – speak of the importance of non-congruent gestures. These are small, subconscious movements in the body that undermine what the person is saying.
These movements may reflect the truth of the situation. For example, if someone states that they will absolutely cooperate with the investigation – yet their head moves in a manner resembling a head shake – there’s a major chance they will not tell the whole truth.
- Body Language Talks
Lying, for most people, is stressful. When undergoing stress, the amygdala, an area of the brain that helps in emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a control panel, communicating and ordering the rest of the body via the nervous system.
This area of the brain communicates with the rest of the body through the nervous system; this controls reflexive body functions such as breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and the dilation or constriction of blood vessels.
When stress increases, the body readies its flight or fight response. This means that the liar might sweat more, appear twitchy, distracted or malcoordinated, or may even start to shake a little as adrenaline levels increase.
All of these symptoms may be difficult to detect with the naked eye, however. This is why the third symptom of lying can be the most revealing of all.
- Saying too much
A liar knows when they’re lying. A successful lie, however, involves the swindling of another person into believing the falsehood. One major way that liars achieve this – especially whilst they’re lying on the go, with no premeditation – is through excessive detail.
This can manifest as including excessive information on inconsequential details. Describing the colour of someone’s eyes, or shoes – when they’re not directly relevant – can be a major tip-off to a falsified story.
Other linguistic cues include higher rates of profanity – perhaps as an attempt to play for thinking time, whilst filling dead silence. Third-person pronouns such as he, she and they are also far more common within lies. This is likely an attempt to distance the liar from any sense of personal involvement.
- Saying too Little
Finally, when pressed for more information, a self-conscious liar may sometimes identify themselves by sharing a surprisingly small amount of information. Especially when lying about an area they’ve little knowledge in, the lie can appear astonishingly vague.
Demand more information and watch the gears in their brain frantically turn, mouth churning as they scramble for a feasible answer. Sometimes, liars reveal themselves.