Here’s How You Can Easily Spot A Liar

Everybody lies. Big lies, little lies, white lies, life wrecking lies. We value honesty, and we hope people around us will tell us the truth. But how do we know when somebody is lying to us?


Sometimes we lie because we want to protect somebody. Other times we lie because we don’t want to admit something about our own behavior.

But the main reason for which people lie is to avoid punishment for breaking a rule. You might not want to admit that it was you who took that unattended sandwich from the office fridge. Your partner might not want to get into a fight with you about the number of beers he really had when he went out with his friends.

But how do you catch a liar? From polygraphs to speech hesitations analysis, a lot of research has been done on this subject.

Psychologist Paul Ekman, whose research inspired the show Lie to Me, has decoded the human face so that we can all know when somebody is lying to us.

His method is very simple. When confronted, people who lie almost always give themselves away. How? By facial expression. Or to put it more accurately, by their micro-expressions. A micro-expression is a very rapid, involuntary facial expression that point to a specific emotion. They take less than a second and nobody can fake them.

So when people lie, there are little changes that appear on their faces and that you can spot when in doubt.

However, the micro-expression can only tell you that the person in front of you is hiding an emotion. What they are concealing may be an emotion associated with a certain situation, not necessarily the fact that they’ve broken a rule.

So when you ask your partner how many beers they had at the bar last night, the little frown that you might see on his face may only indicate anger caused by your nagging, not necessarily a cue that he had 6 bears instead of 2.

So you can identify disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise, and contempt if you are looking very closely. But if you want to know the truth ask direct questions about how they are really feeling. If they shake their heads while saying “yes” then you know they are lying.

The whole process takes time and practice, but once you’ve mastered reading other people’s micro-expression it will be like having a superpower.

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