How to Catch A Liar

People tend to lie very often: during a ten minute conversion, 60% of the people tells two or three lies on average. Usually these lies are innocent: we change small details to spice up our story, or add a few things to impress someone else. But sometimes lies aren’t that innocent. Sometimes important decisions are made based on lies. The following article will explain to you how to detect lies more easily.

Keep in mind that it’s not easy to identify a liar: a single sign from the list below doesn’t automatically mean that the person’s lying. Having your arms crossed over your chest while talking to someone doesn’t automatically mean you’re lying, bored or angry. It can simply mean you’re cold. Every signal should be interpreted into its proper context before you can judge.

Listen To The Verbal Context

Listen To The Verbal Context

Research has uncovered some patterns in how people lie, making it more easy to detect lies.

A liar will reuse your words

Someone who’s lying will often use the same words you used in your question. For example, when the store employee asks “Did you try to steal that apple?”, the thief would answer “No, I did not try to steal that apple”.

A liar will speak without contractions

If the thief speaks the English language, he’ll tend to answer without using contractions. “Did you try to steal that apple?” – “No I did not”.

A liar will avoid lying

The liar will try to avoid lying to ease his conscience. He’ll make indirect statements with an implied meaning, like “Did it look like I was trying to steal that apple?”.

A liar will speak a lot

In an attempt to sound more genuine, someone who’s lying will think up a complete explanation for his actions. This way, when someone asks about his behavior, he's got an answer readily available. Sometimes he'll stammer or muddle throughout the sentences. “Did you try to steal that apple?” – “I did not try to steal it. I was –errr- blah blah blah…”

Study The Body Language

Study The Body Language

An important indication of whether someone is speaking the truth or not is body language. It’s something you have to get used to noticing. Knowing body language will increase social skills in general, eventually.

Stiff body movements

It’s generally known that people who lie give away a lot with their bodies. Therefore, people who know this and lie are very aware of their body. They try to hide what the body tells the other person, which usually results in stiff body movements. They’ll (unconsciously) try to make their body occupy less space by limiting their arm movements and gestures.


When toddlers lie, it’s easy to see: they’ll cover their mouth with their hands or hide behind any object. It’s something that’s in our nature. However, when we grow older, we instinctively learn to hide these signals. We get more aware of our body language, so we try to control it. Most people don't actually manage to do so because they're under a lot of stress, especially when lying. Signs to look out for include touching or covering the mouth, touching or scratching the ear and scratching the back of the head.

Research has also shown that liars don’t touch their chest or heart with an open hand. In fact, they do nothing with open hands, as if their hands will give away the truth. Clenched fists can indicate either anger or lying.

Eye contact

Someone who’s lying will either avoid eye contact, or excessively make eye contact. Naturally, a liar will avoid eye contact, but if he’s aware his body, he might overcompensate its suspicious behavior by looking you directly in the eye all the time. In general, when you feel someone’s acting unnatural, consider something's off.



When asking the liar whether he stole the apple, emotional gestures often give away a lot. It’s often not easy to tell if someone’s faking emotions, but there are few general indications.

You can tell if someone’s lying if they show emotion long after you asked a question. You can tell too if they’re show too much emotion while asking the question and long after you asked it. Another sign of clearly faking emotions is when displayed emotions suddenly stop after the question was answered.

Another sign we probably all have experienced before is when a person displays the emotion after making the verbal statement. When you give a gift to someone and that person says “I love it!”, and smiles afterwards, he’s probably lying. A genuine emotions is visible even when the person’s talking, and in union with the body language.

One of the most faked emotions is smiling. People smile all the time: the shopkeeper, the waiter, your boss, … But how many of those smiles are real, genuine smiles? It’s not that hard to detect. When someone’s smiling, watch the eyes: when he’s genuinely smiling, he’s smiling with his entire face. Take special note of the muscles around the eyes. When smiling, the eyes will narrow and crow's feet will appear. A natural smile will also cause the forehead muscle to push down and the cheeks and jaw may move. Someone’s who’s faking a smile, will only smile with the muscles directly around the mouth. Only a small percentage of people can fake a smile well. Most of us can’t, as you have no doubted experienced yet.



Quite a few researchers have been studying lying for quite some years. This way, we can recognize patterns in the way liars interact.

A liar will often go on the defensive, whereas an innocent person will go on the offensive. After all, an innocent person has nothing to lose. Meanwhile, the liar will never face the person who asked the question directly. He’ll be turned towards the door, with his feet pointed to the door. Since the feet of a human are the farthest away from the brain, the feet give away a lot. Watch in which direction they point, and you’ll know where the person wants to go.

Earlier we learned that liars try to physically “hide” the truth by never showing open hands, making their bodies occupy as little space as possible. They’ll also do this by placing any object between the interrogator and himself, like a mug or glass. In general, this means they don’t like the person sitting across them.


Microexpressions can be easy to overlook. They’re very brief, involuntary facial expressions that express their emotions very intensely. This way, people display concealed emotions unconsciously. They’re very hard to hide or control, but noticing them is also hard, since they’re so brief. Most people don’t notice them. They’re hard to hide for the same reason faking a smile is hard: they’re expressed by your facial muscles you can’t control.

Microexpressions can be grouped into seven different basic emotion groups: anger, disgust, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise and contempt.

The Eyes

The Eyes

An important part of your ability to judge the words of someone, are the eyes. You may have heard about this or found out empirically that your eye movements reveal what you’re doing in your head. Eye movements are divided into six categories, each typical for what you’re thinking.

You’re standing in front of someone and ask him the brand and color of the car his best friend drives. Now watch the eyes closely when he answers “a red Ford”. When they’re moving up and right, he’s visually remembering the car. On the other hand, when you see them moving up and left, he’s visually constructing the car, which means he’s never seen it or is making it up. You’ll see the same when you ask him “Imagine a pink whale”.

The same goes for auditory memories. When asking him “What would Columbus' voice have sounded like?”, his eyes probably will move left (without going up). He’s trying to imagine the voice and constructing it in his head. On the other hand, the question “How does Barack Obama sound?” will cause his eyes to move right (without going up). He's remembering Obama's voice.

Another set of eye movements is related to kinesthetic or feeling: “Imagine the smell of coffee in the morning”. The eyes will go left and down.Wwhen the eyes are moving right and down, the person in front of you is in an internal dialog. He’s considering what to do or say. He’s not sure of himself.

Make it a habit to pay close attention to the eyes directly after asking a question. They give away way too much to ignore.

In Short...

  1. Listen to the verbal context. Make sure it’s consistent.
  2. Study the body language. Stiff movement or touching are signs.
  3. Judge if the shown emotions are genuine.
  4. Take note of the interaction of the subject with the interrogator.
  5. Watch closely for microexpressions. Although they’re hard to detect, they often give away the truth.
  6. Study the eyes. It gives you clues about his words.

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