How To Spot a Liar

The techniques below will show you how to tell if you are being lied to. These techniques are used by government agencies for interrogation. They can easily be utilized in relationships and in business situations. To learn more about these and other techniques, I recommend you pick up a copy of Bust Liars - this guide will teach you everything you need to know about catching liars in the act!

To make successful use of these indicators, it helps to know the suspect's 'normal' body language and reactions to different situations.

  1. Movements - Expressions will be stiff. Liars will use fewer hand movements and take up less space. All physical actions will generally take up less space than usual.
  2. Face touch - Liars will touch the area around their lower face, i.e. scratching the nose, touching the lips or chin. This is an instinct from birth, much like when a child covers his own mouth after a lie, only it has developed through age into less obvious actions.
  3. Eye movement - The eyes of dishonest people will tend to move around a lot to avoid meeting your gaze. However, staring at your eyes for prolonged periods is also an indicator of a lie. This is often because liars have learned that their eye movements are a giveaway and they are trying to control them.
  4. Pupils - Pupils will dilate when a lie is told; this is due to the adrenalin being pumped into the body. This factor will also depend on the severity of the lie. Small white lies may not dilate the pupils.
  5. Stance - Liars often feel uncomfortable standing directly in front of an accuser and may avoid standing with their shoulders squared to yours. Instead, they might stand slightly to the side or with their shoulders offset.
  6. Expressions - Expressions are limited to the mouth, e.g. if a liar fakes a smile, he will only use selected muscles whereas a natural smile utilizes muscles over the whole face.
  7. Man with two personalitiesPalms - Liars often try to hide the palms of their hands. This is also instinctive. Hands behind the back or in the pockets are also positive indicators.
  8. Objects - Liars will play with objects in their possession such as a handbag, bracelet, mobile phone or hair. They may also put an obstruction between themselves and the other person, often something as simple as a coffee cup. This is a subconscious way of attempting to ‘barricade' themselves to relieve the tension of lying.
  9. Tone - A liar's tone of voice is often not consistent with his/her gestures or statements.
  10. Sarcasm - Dishonest people will often use sarcasm when answering accusations.
  11. Answers to questions - A liar uses your words to answer questions, e.g. Q: "Did you have sexual relations with this woman?" A: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
  12. Too many details - Dishonest people will add unnecessary detail to the conversation; this is an attempt to comfort the other person.
  13. Nonsensical - Often liars' words won't make sense and their grammar may be incorrect. This is because a liar's mind is racing in search of a convincing answer and the signals to the mouth are sent incorrectly.
  14. Avoiding direct answers - Liars sometimes imply answers instead of denying something directly. This allows them to avoid lying by not making admissive statements. By doing this, it gives them the possibility of going back on their answers and changing them.
  15. Defensive - Guilty people usually get defensive at the first indication of an accusation whereas honest people will get offensive.
  16. Subject - A liar will often change the subject; a liar will be comfortable with the change with the belief that his lies have been believed. If honest, a person would be confused as to why a potentially serious subject would be changed. He would be more likely to disregard the subject change and pursue the original conversation.

It's important to note that these indicators experienced individually may not indicate a lie. You will need to look for several consistent indicators, or a combination in a short space of time.  Lastly, you may want to take a look at one of the higher quality dating blogs for more advice...


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Very informative article, I've personally observed many of the things you've listed.

By Kashy Ali

Thanks for your feedback guys.
Keep in mind "these indicators experienced individually may not indicate a lie. You will need to look for several consistent indicators, or a combination in a short space of time." And even so it may not be 100% accurate, even a lie detector is not 100%. I would not stake a marriage on these indicators. There is ofcourse much more that could be said on the issue of lying, psycologists have filled many books. Think of this article as a guide to make and support an assumption, which can help you to compel your suspect into giving a confession.


By John Stejskal

Wow, there are a lot of techniques that you have listed here. But one common denominator: they are all body language. This would help me a lot in the near future.

By Jean Sipalay

Great article. Could have used these tricks last week!

By Tom Mungovan

Cool article John... It seems you have observed others well and recorded well. Conscious mind acts but Subconscious mind never lies... How true it is? We come across all these above mentioned actions all the time in our life. It's just that we don't pay much attention to these details. From now on, I will use your tips. Thanks!

By Naveen Raju

I know a couple of people who are habitual liars - they are in my family, and they constantly tell "white lies" that pop out of the mouth before they even think. You missed the GREATEST indicator of a liar, which is TIME. Time always discloses their lies to everyone, and that's how I caught these liars in my family.

By Sadaf Farooqi

Interesting... but I wonder if some the traits described here would actually be specific to some personalities (e.g. too many details, defensive nature) regardless of whether they are liars or not.

By Chaminda Suraweera

Really interesting article! I wonder, how exactly does someone telling the truth get offensive, as opposed to defensive? That confused me a little. Neat stuff, though!

By Amanda Larson

Very good article. I always wanted to know specific characteristics of a liar. I have personally seen most of the ones you mentioned, but some of them where new to me. Funny thing: Bill Clinton popped into my mind when you wrote: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Perhaps lying is part of some job descriptions.

By Leandro Bernardo

Very good specific info, are you a detective??? If I were a liar, I'd be afraid of you!

By Riley Klein