Every single one of us lies an estimated 10 times a day - and can be lied to up to a whopping 200 times in return.
Strangers lie three times in the first 10 minutes of meeting someone new and husbands and wives bend the truth in around one in every five interactions. Even babies fake crying is a form of lying.
One year olds can conceal, five-year-olds can imitate flattery and by the time a person gets to secondary school, it’s estimated kids they lie one in every five exchanges.
It’s a little scary.
Granted, most of these will be small and insignificant, but there are lies that we would rather not be told. Luckily, there’s are a couple of ways to spot is someone’s telling tall tales.
Microexpressions are facial expressions that last a fraction of a second and are pretty much impossible to control. If you know what you’re looking out for, you might just be able to twig when someone isn’t as honest as they say they are.
Dr Paul Ekman, who’s championed research on the topic and even written a book about his findings, explains that facial expressions are universal - and historical.
Incredibly, people who wore born blind also make the same expressions even though they have never seen another person’s face.
Clearly, facial expressions are innate and universal and it’s reading these which can help you in spotting a liar.
[Photo: The Simpsons]
The Know How
Watch the eyes of the person you suspect might be fibbing (without looking too creepy) – people’s eyes tend to ‘flutter’ more when they aren’t telling the truth and quite often they will rub their eyes.
Contrary to popular belief, a liar tends to make eye contact and hold your gaze longer in a bid to prove they are telling the truth.
When people tell the truth, their expressions will be perfectly in sync with their physical gestures. Timing is everything and you can often spot a liar when these don’t quite match simultaneously. Watch out for someone’s ‘duping smile’. This is when a liar can’t help but grin that they are getting away with their fibs.
When someone smiles, always look at their eyes rather than their mouth. While it’s fairly easily for us to consciously contract the muscles around our mouths to form the bottom half of a smile, it’s near impossible to fake the muscle movements of the top half, the area around the eyes.
A genuine smile will narrow the eyes and cause crow’s feet to form at the side.
Be aware of exaggerated details in stories which suggest someone is desperate for you to believe them and many scientists say points toward the untrue. A liar is unlikely to say, ‘Well, I can’t remember that, I forgot that,‘” instead they’ll make something up.”
Famously demonstrated by Bill Clinton during his Monicka Lewinsky denial, when people lie they tend to touch their nose – something some researchers call Pinocchio effect. When you are nervous blood can rush to the capillaries in the nose causing it to itch.
Also, be aware of flashes of distress, characterised by the eyebrows being drawn upwards towards the middle of the forehead, causing short lines to appear across the skin of the forehead.
But Does It Really Work?
However, the problem with all Ekman’s research is that while microexpressions definitely exist, all we really know is that the person is feeling an emotion, perhaps in contrast to the one they are trying to convey.