Three kinds of lies:

Lies of deception

  1. Lie to benefit someone else.
  2. Lie to get someone to affiliate with them.
  3. Lie to avoid giving private details.
  4. Lie to avoid a conflict.
  5. Lie to impress others.
  6. Lie to protect yourself.
  7. Lie to benefit yourself.
  8. Lie to harm someone else.

Lies of omission

Lies of influence  (misdirection)

We delete, distort and generalize information as a way to deceive others, streamline.


The assumption here is that people behave somewhat differently when lying, so knowing these differences can help us detect lies.

Four factor model – Zuckerman

  1. People re more aroused or anxious when telling lies. This is the idea behind the polygraph, or lie detector. Not 100% accurate, and some people conceal their anxiety better than others.
  2. People do not want to get caught lying, so they try to control their behaviors when lying. We try to control, but we cannot control all, and sometimes some of the signals leak out.
  3. Deception triggers guilt, as our society teaches us that lying is wrong.
  4. Lying requires more thinking that truth telling. With the truth, you just let it come out, with a lie you have to think very carefully about the construction of the untrue message.

Interpersonal deception theory

Liars and their listeners both are active in the transaction.

Methods of Detection

  1. Liars strategically create messages with certain characteristics: manipulate the message to dissociate themselves from it, convey uncertainty or vagueness to avoid detection, or withhold information, control their other behaviors, manage their image (smiling or nodding).
  2. They cannot control all of their behaviors, and so some cues to lying can and do leak out, such as blinks, pupil dilation, vocal nervousness, speech errors, leg and body movements, shorter responses.
  3. It is important to establish a baseline:  to notice how a person behaves when they are not under stress.
  4. There is an emotional shift and the person is unaware of it when it initially happens.
  5. The more stress you have, the more your rational mind checks out the more your body is more likely to give a set of cues that are indicative of deception.
  6. No single cue means anything.  We are looking for clusters.
  7. Start with the feet and work your way up.   Repeated and timely.  Within a couple of seconds before or after the words.  The body always answers first.
  8. Common response is distancing.  In order to lie, the individual has to control emotion.  If there is a sudden emotional response a spike, something is happening.  Not necessarily a lie, but is the emotional refractory period.
  9. Emotional filters are present in listener to increase their willingness to provide reinforcement of the rationalizations and alter your sense of what is true and not. Important to focus on lies, ignore the truths in assessment.


  1. 8:30 and 4:30 p.m. are the planning times for “cheaters.”
  2. Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to.


“I swear to tell the truth” – Lies of commission

If someone tells you something that is not a fact then we call this a lie of commission. This type of lie is telling someone something that is simply not true. You’re twisting the truth to create a (usually more favorable) version of something that happened.

Suppose I knew it was raining outside and you asked me about the weather. “Oh no problem, it’s perfectly sunny outside!” You would now be making a decision to dress for sunny weather based on the wrong information you were given.

How to tackle these lies:

For these lies to succeed, you have to be willing to believe the lie. It is something that has to sound plausible. The first step to tackling these lies is the determination not to be lied to. This will make you much more skeptical about what people tell you and lead you to double-check information.

Another way to expose these lies is by asking someone about the assumed lie later on. If he or she suddenly tells you a different story, then this probably means that there is something else going on- requiring a deeper investigation of what the truth really is.

“The whole truth” – Lies of omission

Another type of lie is one where you leave out an important part of information, hence the name lie of omission. In this lies, someone omits an important detail from a statement. These are nasty lies because they’re harder to spot and take less effort from the person who is lying.

Suppose you are buying a used car. You ask the car salesman about the state of the car you’re currently considering. “Oh, don’t worry about that! This car has had all of its scheduled maintenance done!” He fails to tell you, however, that the car has cost hundreds of dollars to replace important parts. So yes, the car has had all of the scheduled maintenance done, but to sell the car to you, the salesman leaves out the information about the cost of maintenance for this particular car.

How to tackle these lies:

In order to uncover these types of lies you’ll have to do a bit of digging. Find more information and double-check what you’re being told. The saying “Truth but verify” is certainly applicable here.

In the above example you could ask the salesman to show you the maintenance log of the car. Then, you would immediately see that the car has had a lot of replaced parts, which could tell you something about the car.


8 Myths about Lying

June 8, 2015

by Paul Ekman, Ph.D. as featured on Forbes.

Myth #1 – Everyone lies.

Not so. Not about serious matters, not about lies which if caught could result in the end of a relationship, employment, freedom, large sums of money or life itself. Those are what I call high stake lies; they are the lies that the police and the FBI and insecure spouses are trying to catch. They are the lies of the criminal, the terrorist, the philanderer, the embezzler, and what the cops call ‘bad guys’.

Myth #2 – No one lies.

Hardly. Nearly everyone tells low stake lies. Politeness, for example, or praising the host for a dull dinner and conversation, flattery, and so forth. No one really expects to be told the truth in those situations.

Myth #3 – Women can spot lies better than men.

No they can’t; most people are terrible lie catchers, fooled by high stake lies again and again. Often they want to believe the liar. Do you want to find out your lover is unfaithful, your children are using hard drugs, the person you recommended for the job is embezzling? These are hard truths to accept, so the target of the lie often cooperates in being misled because the truth is too painful.

Myth #4 – Psychopaths are perfect liars.

Psychopaths are no more skillful at lying than anyone else, but they are so charming we want to believe them, and we do.

Myth #5 – Looking up and to the left is a sign of lying.

The research shows that which way you look before answering a question is unrelated to whether you are lying.

Myth #6 – Micro facial expressions are proof of lying.

Fleeting facial expressions do reveal an emotion that is being concealed, and that is a kind of lie, but innocents under suspicion may conceal their fear, or anger about being suspected. You need to find out why they are concealing their emotions in order to judge whether it is sign they are guilty of the offense you are investigating.

Myth #7 – Scientists have discovered a silver bullet, which works on everyone, to betray a lie.

We don’t have Pinocchio’s nose. Nothing exists which, if absent, means the person is truthful and if present is proof of lying. The polygraph, the so-called lie detector, is just a little bit better than chance. Yet it does have its use in a criminal investigation—if only one of the suspects fails the test, he or she is the first one to investigate, bearing in mind that this suspect may be the most nervous or worried about not being believed, though innocent.

Myth #8 -There is no way to spot lying from how people behave.

There are what I like to call ‘hot spots’ which indicate you are not getting the full story. If you really do want to catch a liar there are nearly thirty different hot spots to pay attention to. Micro facial expressions and gestural slips are the two most important ones, but there are many more.

For example, a slight shrug, usually of one shoulder, coinciding with a verbal statement of confidence is an example of a ‘hot spot’ revealed in a gestural slip. Something is awry.  Another is a slight head shake no, only very slight, when saying ‘yes.’

5 Signs of Lying That Aren’t as Foolproof as You’d Think

November 2, 2015

As seen on Yahoo Health by Temma Ehrenfeld

Think you can spot a liar? Think again. 

Too bad every liar isn’t Pinocchio, with a tell-all nose. But do our faces give lying away in more subtle ways? The answer is often yes — though the science of exactly how is surprisingly complex.

For many people, lying is stressful — so you might think that that stress would reveal itself blatantly via body language. But supposedly obvious “giveaways” aren’t reliable indicators of dishonesty, experts say. Unease could have many causes.

That’s not to say having a strange feeling about the way someone is acting doesn’t mean something. If someone’s body language is making your gut shout “liar,” investigate further. After all, research suggests that intuitions about lying may be more accurate than conscious judgment. In one study, participants watched videos of “suspects” in a mock-crime interview, some of whom were lying. They were able to pick out the liars only 43 percent of the time, less than by chance. In a separate test of unconscious associations, however, they were more likely to link the liars to words like “untruthful” and “dishonest.”

Think you can spot a liar? Here are five supposed “tells” that aren’t as foolproof as you may think.


It’s the classic sign of lying. However, “liars generally don’t appear to be more fidgety,” says Bella DePaulo, a social psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who co-authored a large meta-analysis of studies of lying. In fact, “some truthful people who know they’re under suspicion will fidget,” points out world-renowned lying expert Paul Ekman, author of Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life.


Lying can require more concentration than usual. Some research suggests that people blink less when they’re thinking harder — for example, when they’re recalling an eight-digit number, compared to one with four digits. In experiments in which some people were instructed to lie and others weren’t, the liars blinked less. But … it depends why you’re lying and how you feel. Anxiety can cause more blinking, says DePaulo, especially if “people were lying about a transgression.”

Dilated Pupils

Dilated pupils are another indication of tension and concentration. This can show up both when liars are thinking hard and when they’re feeling anxious. However, even with an odd sign like this, you can also get “false-positives,” since people can be highly anxious and overthinking the details even when they’re innocent.

Eye Contact

DePaulo found that liars avoid eye contact when they’re highly motivated not to be caught. Let’s say you’re questioning your S.O. about something, and he locks eyes with you during his denial. He could still be lying, but he isn’t anxious about it — maybe because he knows you don’t have hard evidence about his wrongdoing.

Differences in the Way a Person Acts

“She just seems different. I know my girlfriend/wife/sister/mother, and that’s not the way she acts.” We think that because we know intimately how someone usually sounds and moves, we’ll notice tell-tale differences when he or she is lying. Alas, that’s not so — just the opposite. “When we become friends, lovers, or parents, we become blind,” Ekman says. In Behind the Door of Deceit, DePaulo describes research showing that sometimes a perfect stranger can beat romantic partners at detecting each other’s lies

So if these supposed “tells” aren’t really tells at all, how can you catch a liar?

Ekman argues that the key is to catch subtle, fleeting, or tiny micro-expressions — expressions that come and go on people’s faces so quickly you normally wouldn’t notice them, unless you knew to look for them. Ekman zeroed in on these most-minute expressions while he was devising a coding system for facial muscle movements (part of his research in developing a complete list of facial expressions). Examining videotapes, he caught movements that lasted as short as a 20th of a second. These quick, usually unnoticed expressions, he says, tend to reveal emotions that we want to conceal.

Ekman gives the example of the wife of a murder victim. As the police interrogate her, she might be earnestly cooperative, but flash a micro-expression of anger at a particular question. Is she angry because the question is exposing a lie? Let’s say she smiles ever-so-briefly for no obvious reason. Is she smiling with triumph?

On the other hand, her attempt to conceal her emotion may be normal social behavior. She could be angry at the police because she wants privacy. She might be smiling at a happy memory she shared with her husband before he died.

It is possible to learn how to recognize and detect these signs in real time — Ekman says you can master the skill after four days of training, and offers instructional videos to do so. He cautions against relying on intuitions that someone is lying, since we’re all prey to our assumptions and prejudices. Sharpen your eye instead: Although you may not become Sherlock Holmes, training could help you see more, especially subtle expressions, which are brief but not micros. Lifted eyebrows, for example, show surprise. If just the inner corner of an eyebrow goes up, you may be seeing an early stage of sadness.

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