How To Detect Lies: Body Language

Are you bad at spotting a lie?

Well, most of us are not perfect in this. Our instincts for judging liars are actually pretty strong, but our conscious minds sometimes fail us.

Luckily, there are signs we can look for when trying to detect a lie. To detect lying, watch for signs of stress in body language and facial expressions. The following are the most common body language signs of lying. All of them could also mean disagreeing with what you are saying, or simply being insincere with you.

The Mouth Cover

This is an instinctive gesture that first appears in early childhood. A lier covers his mouth with his hand, as if he or she is trying to prevent the deceitful words from being said. It could be just a few fingers covering the lips, or the whole palm — the meaning doesn’t change.

Some people try to disguise the mouth cover gesture by giving a fake cough.

If the person who is using this gesture of covering the mouth is the one who is speaking, it means she might be lying. However, if she is a listener, it might mean that she feels that you are not being totally honest and sincere with her.

The Mouth Cover may appear as the ‘Shhh’ gesture where one finger is placed vertically over the lips. This gesture would likely have been used by the person’s mother or father when she was a child. As an adult, the person uses it in an attempt to tell themselves not to say something they’re feeling.

The Nose Touch

Among the most common signs of lying is the nose touch. Adults are more conscious about body signs that they are displaying, but still use the same hand gesture. However, the hand is quickly pulled away from the mouth, which results in a quick nose touching gesture.

You can tell the difference between a “normal” nose itch, and a nose touch that is from the signs of lying — the simple itch will be satisfied with rubbing or scratching.

The Eye Rub

The Eye Rub is the brain’s attempt to block out the deceit. Rubbing one’s eyes could be one of the many signs of lying, if the person who does it is the speaker, or a sign of blocking doubt or distasteful thing it sees. Men usually rub their eyes vigorously, while the women’s way to do it is more gentle and more brief.

The Ear Grab

When a little child hears something that she doesn’t like, she covers both her ears as if to prevent herself from hearing the sound. Adults are more conscious about what they do with their body, so instead of obvious ear covering gestures, they could quickly touch the earlobe. But still this is a symbolic attempt by the listener to ‘hear no evil’: trying to block the words he is hearing by putting the hand around or over the ear or tugging at the earlobe.

The Neck Scratch And Cover For The Vulnerable body parts

The index finger (usually of the writing hand) scratches the side of the neck below the earlobe. Another sign of lying is scratching the neck below the earlobe a few times. This is also often a sign of doubting or disagreeing with what has been said. This may include areas such as the throat, chest, head, or abdomen.

The Collar Pull and Change in Breathing

Desmond Morris was one of the first to discover that lies cause a tingling sensation in the delicate facial and neck tissues, and a rub or scratch was required to satisfy it. Increased blood pressure from the deceit causes sweat to form on the neck when the deceiver feels that you suspect he’s not telling the truth. Also when someone is lying to you, they may begin to breathe heavily, it’s a reflex action.

Fingers In The Mouth

This is an unconscious attempt by the person to revert to the security of the child sucking on his mother’s breast and occurs when a person feels under pressure.

Reassurance is needed here. Most Hand-to-Mouth gestures can be connected to lying or deception but the Fingers-in-Mouth gesture could be a result of over pressure.

Head Position Is Changing Quickly

If you see someone suddenly make a head movement when you ask them a direct question, they may be lying to you about something. The head will be retracted or bowed down, or cocked or tilted to the side right before a person is expected to respond to a question.

A Person Stands Very Still

Watch out for people who are not moving at all. When you speak and engage in normal conversation, it is natural to move your body around in relaxed and unconscious movements. So if you observe a rigid movement, it is often a huge warning sign that something is off.

Feet Shuffling

Shuffling feet tells you that the potential liar is uncomfortable and nervous. It also shows you that he or she wants to leave the situation. Literally, want to walk away. Just look at a person’s feet and you can tell a lot.

Hold A Stare Without Blinking Much

When people lie, it’s common that they break eye contact, but the liar could maintain eye contact in attempt to control and manipulate you. When people tell the truth, most of them will occasionally shift their eyes around, but liars will use a cold, steady stare to intimidate and control.

Bernard Madoff usually overcompensated and stared at people longer than usual