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Archive for February 2, 2011

How to catch a liar?

J.J. Newberry was a trained federal agent for 30 years and a police officer for 5, and skilled in the art of deception detection. So when a witness to a shooting sat in front of him and tried to tell him that when she heard gunshots she didn’t look, she just ran — he knew she was lying. How did Newberry reach this conclusion? The answer is by recognizing telltale signs that a person isn’t being honest, like inconsistencies in a story, behaviour that’s different from a person’s norm, or too much detail in an explanation. Now, the average person can catch a liar by being observant as expert Newberry have shared some signals that can tell if a person is lying or not.

1. Inconsistencies

Always look for inconsistencies. When the woman he was questioning said she ran and hid after hearing the gunshots without looking, Newberry knew that she was lying. So when she wasn’t paying attention, Newberry banged on the table hard and the women looked straight at him because when a person hears a noise, it is natural to look straight towards it. Newberry knew that it was inconsistent with how a person would react to a situation like that. This is what you should look for when you are talking to someone who isn’t telling the truth.

2. Ask for the unexpected

There are many liars in the world who do it very well and you have to catch them when they least expect it. Watch them carefully, and when they don’t expect it, ask them one question that they are not prepared to answer or wouldn’t expect you to ask them.

3. Changes in the personality

One of the most important indicators of dishonesty is changes in the behaviour. Pay attention to the person who is generally anxious but now looks calm or the opposite. Is the person’s behaviour falling away from how they would normally act then there is something going on.

4. Look for insincere emotions

Most people know how to put on a fake smile, but if the timing is wrong like an angry face with smile on you can notice that the lips are smaller and less full than a sincere smile or the smile will be held for too long is a good indicator.

5. Watch for micro expressions

A micro expression is a brief expression usually about a 25th of a second that is a concealed emotion says Ekman, PhD, professor emeritus for psychology at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. When a person is acting happy, but in fact is upset about something, his or her true emotions will be revealed in subconscious flash of anger on their face. The secret is to look carefully. Micro expressions won’t tell you the reason of why the person is lying, they just tell you that there is an concealed emotion what the emotion is.

7. Look for contradictions

Anything a person does with their voice or the gesture that doesn’t fit the words they are saying can indicate a lie. Sometimes when people are telling a lie, they will without knowing it shake their head to the side or as a no and that is a gesture that contradicts with what they are saying in words.

8. A sense of unease

When someone isn’t making eye contact and that is against how they normally wouldn’t act, it will normally mean that they are not honest. They look away, are sweating and look uneasy.

9. Too much detail

If you ask a person; “where were you yesterday?” and they answer; “I went to the store to buy some grocery, then I almost hit a dog with my car and etc… Too much detail indicates that they are lying as they need to get out of the situation and lies as a solution.

10. Don’t ignore the truth

It’s more important to recognize when someone is telling the truth than telling a lie because people can look like they’re lying but be telling the truth. Finding the truth buried under a lie can sometimes help find the answer to an important question; why is this person lying?

Signs of deception

The following techniques to understand if someone is lying are often used by police, forensic psychologists and security experts.

1. Body language

  • Physical expression will be limited and stiff with few arm and hand movements. Hand, arm and leg movement are towards their own body and the liar takes up less space.
  • A person who is lying will avoid eye contact with you but a professional liar will look you straight into the eye as the lie is served since they know that liars look away.
  • A person who is lying will touch his/her face, throat and mouth and touching or scratching their own nose and behind the ear.
  • Dry mouth, frequent swallowing and changes in breathing are all signs of stress.

2. Emotional gestures & contradictions

  • Timing and duration of emotional gestures and emotions are off a normal place. The emotion is delayed, stays longer than it would normally and then suddenly stops.
  • The timing is off between emotions/expressions and words. Example; someone says: “I love it!” when receiving a gift and then smiles after making that statement rather than at the same time.
  • Gesture/expressions don’t match the verbal statement such as if you frown or look somewhere else while you say “I love you.”
  • Expressions are limited to mouth movements when someone is faking emotions (like surprised, sad etc) instead of the whole face. When someone smiles naturally, their whole face is involved; jaw/cheek movement, eyes and forehead etc.
  • More frequent blinking, or much less blinking than usual.

3. Reactions

  • A guilty person gets defensive and an innocent person will often go on the offensive side.
  • A liar is uncomfortable facing his questioner/accuser and may turn his body or head away.
  • A liar might unconsciously place objects between themselves and you.
  • The liar reacts with outrage if you ask a direct question of what you believe is a lie.

4. Verbal context and content

  • A liar will use your words to answer the question. If you ask, “did you take my pen?” the liar answers, “No, I didn’t take your pen.”
  • Liars sometimes avoid lying by not making direct statements. They imply answers instead of denying something directly.
  • The guilty person makes speak more than natural, adding unnecessary details to convince you as they are not comfortable with silence or pauses in the conversation.
  • A liar may leave out pronouns and speak in a monotonous tone. When a truthful statement is made the pronoun is emphasized as much or more than the rest of the words in a statement.

5. Other signs of a lie

  • If you believe someone is lying, then change the subject of the conversation quickly because a liar will follow along willingly and become more relaxed while a truthful person will be confused by the sudden change in topics and will want to go back to the previous topic.
  • A liar will use humour or sarcasm to avoid a subject.

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