Lies, Damned Lies, and Psychology

Want to show your readers that a character is lying? It’s common wisdom that the eyes give liars away. According to recent studies, however, you can’t always spot a liar by their eye movements. Fortunately, Psychology Professor Richard Wiseman has discovered a few other ways to spot a liar (list copied from the article linked below):

  1. Me, myself I: Liars make up stories that never actually happened, and so tend to reduce the number of times they refer to themselves. Look out for any sudden drop in words like me, mine and I
  2. Shifty: Lying is difficult and people tend not to move around when they are concentrating on something. Be wary if a person suddenly becomes very still
  3. Umm … err: Liars are far more hesitant than truth tellers and tend to stumble over their words. Listen out for tell-tale umms and errs.
  4. Timing: Liars often have to think about what they are going to say before they speak. Be suspicious if someone suddenly pauses before starting to answer a question.
  5. Token gesture: Liars tend to move their hands around more than truth tellers. Be wary if someone suddenly starts covering up their mouth or touching their hair as they chat.
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