TED Talks "How to spot a liar", Oct 2011

"Lying is a cooperative act. A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance. Its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie." --Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting

Attitude indicators are just behaviors. They're not proof of deception. They're red flags which don't mean anything in and of themselves. However, when you see clusters of these red flags that's your signal.

Patterns of Deception:

#1 non-contracted denial (e.g., Clinton's public statment about ML)
  • People who are overdetermined in their denial will resort to formal rather than informal language
  • Use of distancing language to distance self from another person (e.g., "that woman")
  • Use of qualifying language discredits the liar

#2 body language (use science to temper your knowledge)
  • Fidgeters freeze their upper bodies when they're lying
  • While smiles convey honesty and sincerity, a real smile is in the eyes (wrinkled crows feet can't be consciously contracted)
honest person: cooperative, show they're on your side, enthusiastic, willing and helpful to getting you to the truth, willing to brainstorm, name suspects, or provide details

deceptive person: withdrawn, look down, lower their voice, pause, their story is peppered with way too much detail in all kinds of irrelevant places, blink rate changes, point their feet towards an exit; will take barrier objects and put them between themselves and the person that is interviewing them; will alter their vocal tone, often making their vocal tone much lower

Related articles:

"The Truth About Lying" by Allison Kornet, Psychology Today
"Lying in Everyday Life", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology [PDF]
Radio Lab: Into the Brain of a Liar
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